Below is an article by Don Walton of the Lincoln Journal-Star about Sen. "Mike" Johanns-bot's comments on the use of reconciliation to pass health care reform in the Senate.
You might remember the Johanns-bot's gig with the previous administration as Android Secretary of Agriculture. Nebraskans overwhelmingly elected it to serve in the United States Senate, which is pretty generous, considering the incredible mess it and the rest of the Bush administration made of the country. When you consider how red the Cornhusker state is, though, it makes perfect sense.
Anyway, the Johanns-bot has been recently reprogrammed, and it is now mindlessly executing its new programming as it interacts with the news media. I'll reproduce Walton's story here together with my comments.
Sen. Mike Johanns said Thursday the best conclusion to President Barack Obama's health care reform summit would have been a pledge not to seek Senate approval using the so-called reconciliation process.It appears that certain facts have not been downloaded to the Johanns-bot. Reconciliation has been used 22 times since 1980. Republicans have themselves used reconciliation, and the Android senator belongs to the Republican Party. In addition, Republicans have made the use of reconciliation necessary, since they refuse to vote for any health care reform supported by Democrats and have threatened use of the filibuster. In fact, it may be safely said that Republicans are abusing the filibuster, so the Johanns-bot's insistence on the rules of the Senate in the present case is quite amusing. Apparently, the Johanns-bot's database does not include these important facts.
That procedure would allow enactment by a Senate majority of 51 votes, bypassing the need to acquire 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster.
Comprehensive health care reform "should not be rammed through" by using a process that was designed to control spending, Johanns said.
Reconciliation "bypasses thoughtful consideration of legislation," he said.Again, the Johanns-bot is mindlessly executing its programming by repeating Republican talking points. Both houses of Congress have been working on health care reform for a year, so it is rather implausible to claim that the resulting legislation has not been thoughtfully considered. Clearly, the Johanns-bot is either incapable of rudimentary logic (as is many of his Republican colleagues) or it is simply malfunctioning. Further, it has been programmed to recognize a Democratic victory as a threat to the Republican Party to which it owes everything, including its many software upgrades. And Democrats could score a victory by passing health care reform through reconciliation. The Johanns-bot promises bipartisan agreement if reconciliation off the table, but it is programmed to avoid bipartisan activity at all costs.
"Let's just take reconciliation off the table," the Republican senator said, and seek bipartisan agreement through discussion and debate.
"Nothing would clear the air more," Johanns said during a telephone conference call from Washington as the health care reform conference was winding down.
Obama told congressional leaders at the summit he believes the public isn't too interested in Senate procedures.Here again the operation of the Johanns-bot is predicable and reliable, in spite of potential problems with its central processing unit. It has been programmed to state that Democratic health care bills have been overwhelmingly rejected by the American people even though that contradicts the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll which also indicates that most Americans support many of the features of the bill.
"I think most Americans think that a majority vote makes sense," he said.
Johanns said he was "very disappointed" that Obama shaped Thursday's discussion around a modified version of the Democratic bill approved by the Senate in December.
That proposal has been "overwhelmingly rejected" by the American people, he said.
"My hope is all of us can start with a notion that we need to write down on a sheet of paper what we want to achieve," Johanns said.Unfortunately, the Johanns-bot has not downloaded all those health care bills that have been written down on paper. Perhaps it had been deactivated for repairs at some time last year; that would explain why it apparently missed the starting point about a year ago. Whatever the reason for its tenuous grip on reality, the Johanns-bot's programmers are strongly motivated to send it out into the world in its present state: if the Johanns-bot, the McConnell-bot, the Cantor-bot, the Boehner-bot, and others can convince Democrats to scrap a year's worth of hard work and start over, they could delay the passage of health care reform for who knows how much longer.
And that could be "the starting point," he said.