ATF and Gun Control

They’re not capable of letting this go.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Thursday raised new concerns about surplus military ammo used in popular AR-15 rifles and pistols just days after pulling back on a proposal to ban the ammo because it could threaten police safety.

In a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, ATF Director B Todd Jones said all types of the 5.56 military-style ammo used by shooters pose a threat to police as more people buy the AR-15-style pistols.

So is the ammunition for any firearm a threat. So are knives. So are hammers.

Costs of Obamacare

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange…has enrolled 160,000 paying customers in ObamaCare exchange health plans but that’s more than 50,000 short of goal, which has led to an extension of the enrollment deadline and a request that the Washington State Legislature fork over $125 million to fund the exchange.

There’s a hint there.

Republicans are angry because they were told the exchange would be self-sufficient by the end of this year.

Leading Democrats were also skeptical. They were expecting a much lower subsidy as the exchange bridges from federal seed money to being able to fund itself through premium taxes and fees paid by insurance companies and customers.

Off Ramps

That’s the cool, new buzz phrase. Congressmen John Kline (R, MN), Paul Ryan (R, WI), and Fred Upton (R, MI), Chairmen of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and Energy and Commerce Committee, respectively, used it Monday in The Wall Street Journal to propose alternatives to Obamacare should the Supreme Court strike down Federal subsidies related to health care coverage plans bought through ObamaMart rather than through the State exchanges that the Obamacare law requires for Federal subsidy eligibility.

In the main, their alternatives are good ones, but there are a couple points with which I wholeheartedly disagree, and it’s disappointing that three men who know better would propose them.

Non-neutrality of Net “Neutrality”

The Federal Communications Commission set aside two decades of laissez-faire policy Thursday to assert broad authority over the Internet, voting to regulate broadband providers as public utilities and overruling laws in two states that made it harder for cities to offer their own Web service.

And

The commission pledged to use a light touch….

The FCC’s “rule” violates express Congressional instruction not to do this. With the FCC’s lawlessness made manifest, how can their pledge be believed?

A Thought on Net Neutrality

…as conceived in secret by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The image below, from the AP via USA Today, is…illustrative. The outage about which the article was written was clearly the result of vandalism. Read carefully, those signs taped to the window in the image.NetNeutrality

Think about them. Think about what happens when Government controls the Internet. The concerns presently center of free speech, and those concerns are of extreme importance. But the same control gives Government control over what businesses will be allowed to operate on the Internet, and at what cost—unique, perhaps, to a company of which Government disapproves.

One More Nail

…in what should be Obamacare’s coffin. Even if repeal will take some years and a Republican President.

More than half of tax filers who received subsidies for health insurance premiums may owe hundreds of dollars because they got tax credits that were too large, complicating an already messy tax season that has seen about 800,000 incorrect tax statements sent to consumers who obtained coverage via the federal HealthCare.gov exchange.

Almost six weeks into tax filing season, 52% of people who enrolled in insurance through state or federal exchanges are finding they must pay back a portion of their tax credits, according to a report Tuesday by tax preparation firm H&R Block Inc. and based on their clients. The average amount paid back is $530….

The Judicial Branch and the Law

In a couple of weeks, the Supreme Court will hear a case involving Federal subsidies to health coverage purchasers who bought their plans on ObamaMart instead of State exchanges. The Obamacare law limits those subsidies to purchasers via State exchanges argue the plaintiffs; the government demurs.

Some ACA critics fear the Supreme Court may hesitate to block the current subsidies because of a lack of confidence in the legislative branch in general.

Against that backdrop, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said

The current Congress is not equipped really to do anything[.]

Corporate Dishonesty

I received in today’s snailmail a document postmarked Sacramento, CA, Permit No 1827. In bold, black print, the envelope carrying this document had the following notice:

WARNING: $2000 FINE, 5 YEARS IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH FOR ANY PERSON INTERFERING OR OBSTRUCTING DELIVERY OF THIS LETTER.

Who sent me this very important document? Who knows? The originator was so ashamed of himself and/or what he had to say to me that he declined to put his address, much less his name, on the envelope.

I opened it.

Who’d-a Thunk?

According to President Barack Obama’s Department of Education, his student loan forgiveness program already is experiencing cost overruns to the tune of nearly $22 billion. Obama’s 2010 PAYE expansion at the time was projected to add $9 billion to the taxpayers’ bill for students not repaying their debt. As the DoE put it,

The 2015 amount includes a net upward reestimate of $21.8 billion, primarily related to revised interest rates and increased participation in income-driven repayment plans.

Or, in the words of James Schneider, who wrote the article at the second link,

[S]welling enrollment due to looser loan rules is driving up costs….

A Fatal Flaw

In a piece for Wired, FCC MFWIC Tom Wheeler offered rationalization for his decision to dismantle the Internet. He opened his apologia with this remarkable claim:

This proposal is rooted in long-standing regulatory principles….

That’s the problem. Regulatory “principles” proceed from the assumption that government regulation is a universal and primary good.

Of course, that’s precisely backward—and backwards. A free market is almost universally self-regulating: make a bad product, people find out and stop buying—the producer goes out of business. Lie about a product, people find out and stop buying—even if the product itself might be sound—and the producer or seller goes out of business. And so on.