Friday, May 05, 2017

Cruising the Webu

It isn't perfect and the process was typically ugly, but at least we got the first step in repealing Obamacare. I'm with the WSJ in their analysis.
The bill that passed is remarkably similar to the one that GOP leaders first introduced. The changes demanded first by the Freedom Caucus and then some moderates are tweaks that don’t alter the reform’s core architecture.

The bill includes deregulatory steps to pave the way for a variety of insurance coverage that more people can afford; the largest entitlement reform in decades by devolving control over Medicaid to the states; a $1 trillion spending cut over a decade; tax credits for individual insurance that begin to equalize the tax treatment of health care for individuals and businesses; and the repeal of ObamaCare taxes totaling $900 billion over 10 years.

The bill doesn’t repeal all of ObamaCare because it can’t without Democratic help under the Senate’s budget rules. But the bill marks a giant step away from the Democratic march to government-run health care, which is why the political and cultural left have been so vitriolic in their denunciations.

The Senate will now put its stamp on the policy, and no doubt there will be many perils of Rand Paul-ine moments with only a 52-seat GOP majority. The House bill will change, but reporters who think it is doomed should get off Twitter and make some calls. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been counting votes and calculating necessary compromises for some time.

House Republicans should be prepared that some of their planks may not survive Senate budget rules. They’ll have to be flexible enough to accept the compromises that are inevitable in a bicameral legislature. The trump card, so to speak, is that this process will yield a binary political choice: Either Members vote for what emerges from the House and Senate, or live with the status quo of ObamaCare.

That status quo is deteriorating as this week’s decision by Aetna to withdraw from Virginia’s health exchanges shows. Republicans need to act within weeks to clarify the rules of the individual insurance market for 2018. The lobby for the insurance industry issued a generally supportive statement on House passage, which offers some hope that congressional action can forestall a market collapse. Republicans will be blamed for that collapse whether or not they pass repeal and replace.

A word about the legislative process and political hypocrisy. Democrats and the media are howling that Republicans passed their bill before the Congressional Budget Office issued its final score of the budget and insurance impact. They have a point, but anyone voting Thursday had ample time to understand the policy choices.

As for CBO’s score, really? We don’t recall the same media concern for budget exactitude when Democrats rammed through ObamaCare on a partisan vote with more gimmicks than a traveling carnival. Remember the Class Act on long-term care that gilded the deficit numbers until it was quickly repealed? And don’t forget the government takeover of the student-loan market that was packaged with ObamaCare because CBO said it would save taxpayers money. Now loan defaults are bleeding red ink.
Now they have to sell their bill and make the case that the way it's being characterized by the Democrats is totally false. The law isn't ideal, but trying to repeal an entitlement has never gotten this far before. Of course, if the Republicans were crafting a health care reform bill from the beginning without having to do it by building on the mess that Obamacare has been, they would have done it differently. But that is not the reality and this is about the best they could given the situation they are in. Let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There are changes that the Senate could make in the law to improve it. Ramesh Ponnuru has suggestions for some improvements.
Now that the House has passed the American Health Care Act, Senate Republicans should work on improving it. They could either try to replace the bill with another one that attempts to achieve the same basic goals—allowing people to purchase cheaper policies, reducing regulations and taxes—or merely modify it. (There’s talk of the former, but my bet is that senators will follow the second, easier path.)

In either case, they should aim to provide some more protection for three overlapping groups of people who could end up paying higher premiums under the House bill: those in their 50s, those with incomes just above the level that would make them eligible for Medicaid, and those with pre-existing conditions.

The debate over this last group of people has been filled with wild exaggerations from Democrats and the media, which have been countered by inept defenses from Republicans. Take this article from CNBC, which publicizes an “analysis” holding that the bill’s risk-pool funding would allow it to cover only five percent of Americans with pre-existing conditions. That’s a meaningful figure only if you assume that every American with one of those conditions will a) live in a state that applies for and gets a waiver from Obamacare’s regulations on pre-existing conditions and b) allow their insurance to lapse (since even in waiver states the Obamacare regulations will still cover those who stay on the rolls).

But some people with pre-existing conditions—chiefly those who are right above the Medicaid eligibility line and those in their 50s—could run into problems in waiver states if their tax credit does not buy them much coverage. If Senate Republicans want to start with the House bill and modify it to prevent this possibility, one way would be to limit the bill’s waivers to cap what insurers could charge even for people who let their coverage lapse: say, allowing them to charge only 30 percent more for people with pre-existing conditions.

Alternatively, beefing up tax credits for older and poorer people would make it less likely that people with pre-existing conditions would fall through the cracks. It would also improve the bill’s overall coverage numbers. Even under the unamended bill, a large proportion of the people who would “lose” their coverage as a result of its passage would really be choosing to drop coverage that they are currently buying only to avoid a fine. That proportion of voluntary drop-outs would be even higher under a bill with larger credits for those who need more assistance.

An additional amendment could stipulate that insurance companies that take the tax credit must include among their offerings a policy with a premium equal to the tax credit, so that it will always be possible for someone to buy some degree of protection without having to supplement that credit. State governments that apply for waivers could set up a default enrollment plan that assigns people to one of those policies if they don’t sign up for any coverage—so that inertia doesn’t take them off the rolls.

Kimberley Strassel has
some other recommendations.
The solution is to build on the concept of state flexibility. The Senate can insert provisions that essentially give the Trump administration blanket freedom to provide waivers to states. Those waivers can go well beyond wiping away mandates. They can provide states vast flexibility to craft fixes to their own unique problems, inspiring true health-care innovation in the process.

This is also a better way, politically, to keep the sprawling conservative universe united. It would take the heat off GOP lawmakers to answer specific and explosive policy questions, such as what will happen with pre-existing conditions. After all, Republicans would be voting for a bill that simply allows states to request permission to retool their health-care markets—in some form or fashion, as yet to be determined. That would rally activists and moderates alike to one of the few causes on which they agree: giving states freedom from an intrusive federal government and the right to forge their own destinies.

Some conservatives will fret that the promise of waivers is too loosey-goosey—that the mandates should be outright repealed, and that it would be risky to leave the insurance market in the hands of President Trump’s Health and Human Services Department. That argument willfully ignores political reality. Mr. Trump knows that his fate and that of the Republican Party rest on fulfilling his campaign pledge to stabilize insurance markets and bring down premiums. HHS Secretary Tom Price will be begging states to send him good ideas to sign off on.

The bigger risk is Republican egos—that House conservatives and activist groups will cling to their compromise as the only solution or will automatically reject other Senate changes. And there will be alterations: to tax credits, to the Medicaid block grants, to the high-risk pools. With sincere credit to those who diligently forged the House deal, they are not the only people in Washington capable of crafting health-care policy. If someone like Sen. Ted Cruz, who is also focused on costs, can ultimately support an altered Senate bill, that ought to count for something.

House Republicans have an obligation to their struggling constituents to embrace any idea that can make the bill better—even if it isn’t their own. They also have an obligation to work as open-mindedly with the Senate as they recently did with each other. The enemy isn’t fellow Republicans. It’s ObamaCare.

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Hmmm. Interesting.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that there is so far no evidence showing collusion between Donald Trump's campaign aides and Russian officials.

Blitzer mentioned that Feinstein and other colleagues from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had visited CIA headquarters on Tuesday to be briefed on the investigation. He then asked Feinstein whether she had evidence, without disclosing any classified information, that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"Not at this time," Feinstein said.

"Well, that's a pretty precise answer," Blitzer said.

Feinstein's direct answer contrasts with that of other Democrats who have claimed there is evidence showing collusion between Trump campaign aides and Russia.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in March that he has seen "more than circumstantial" evidence showing collusion
Could Adam Schiff have...lied or misled the American people? This really should be bigger news; the Democrats have been acting as if it's a settled fact that there was some sort of collusion.

And then there was this tidbit that didn't get a lot of attention.
Multiple U.S. senators are now demanding that FBI Director James Comey disclose whether Fusion GPS, the Democratic opposition research firm that produced the debunked dossier on President Trump’s alleged Russia ties, was itself a Russian agent working on behalf of Vladimir Putin’s regime. In a letter sent to Comey in March, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) dropped a bombshell and disclosed that a complaint against Fusion GPS had been filed with the Department of Justice alleging that the oppo firm “violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by working on behalf of Russian principals to undermine U.S. sanctions against Russians.”...

....Grassley asked for information on March 6 about the FBI’s relationship to Christopher Steele, author of a political opposition research dossier that alleged collusion between associates of Donald Trump and the Russian government. The FBI failed to respond, despite a March 20 deadline....

Grassley said he requested information about this on March 31 but that Justice failed to respond. He is now demanding answers to all of his questions, along with new questions about what the FBI knew about Russian involvement with Fusion GPS, by May 12. The earlier letter, discussed here, included questions about whether the dossier was used to seek a FISA warrant against anyone. Spoiler: It was strategically leaked that it was.
Should we, you know, follow the money?

What a shock! Iran is using the billions to which Obama allowed them access to build up their military.
Iran is using the billions in cash resources provided under the landmark nuclear deal to engage in an unprecedented military buildup meant to transform the Islamic Republic's fighting force into an "offensive" juggernaut, according to a largely unreported announcement by Iranian military leaders that has sparked concern among U.S. national security insiders and sources on Capitol Hill.

Iranian officials announced late last month that Iran's defense budget had increased by 145 percent under President Hassan Rouhani and that the military is moving forward with a massive restructuring effort aimed at making it "a forward moving force," according to regional reports.

Iranian leaders have stated since the Iran deal was enacted that they are using the massive amounts of cash released under the agreement to fund the purchase of new military equipment and other armaments. Iran also has pursued multi-million dollar arms deals with Russia since economic sanctions were nixed as part of the deal.

Leading members of Congress and U.S. officials working on the Iran portfolio suspect that at least a portion of the Obama administration's $1.7 billion cash payment to Iran has been used to fund and support terrorists in the Middle East.

The latest disclosure about Iran's military buildup is further fueling concerns that U.S. cash assets returned to the country—which were released with no strings attached by the Obama administration—are helping Iran pursue a more aggressive military stance against U.S. forces in the region.
Way to go, Obama!

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Lee Smith has an interesting essay about how the media today reports on foreign policy. Their takes aren't based on deep research and thoughtful analysis. Instead they're searching for the most interesting and provocative hot take.
It wasn’t that long ago, of course, when reporters used to recoil from the idea of rewriting press releases faxed to them by some PR shop, even—or especially—if it was centered in the White House. That’s partly because they were cynical bastards who distrusted authority—also, they resented the PR guys, who were getting paid a lot more than they were. Except now, what reporters and editors who were still around from the old days saw in front of them was a catastrophe that no one could have imagined even five years earlier. Newspapers were closing around the country, and even those papers that managed to survive couldn’t afford the kinds of departments that are central to a free press—like investigative teams, and national and foreign bureaus.

The new generation of opiners gladly stepped into the cost-cutting breach. Their model was Malcolm Gladwell, a hugely talented and even more hugely successful writer for The New Yorker who became famous by finding the angle on all other angles: Everything you think you know about the world is wrong.


There are no winners in war, only losers. The most arduous nuclear inspection regime in history involves letting Iran inspect its own nuclear sites. Funding a state at war won’t fill its war chest. Rewarding a state sponsor of terror for its activities makes that state less likely to sponsor terror. Deterrence doesn’t work.

The logic at work in some of the more popular arguments made by Obama aides and their validators in the press wasn’t dialectical or paradoxical; e.g., if you want peace, prepare for war. It was Gladwellian—what’s really true is the opposite of whatever you think is true. Of course, that’s not journalism, it’s just marketing, or, in contemporary journalism-speak, Voxsplaining, after the popular liberal website Vox, which devoted itself in its entirety to counter-intuitive self-branded “hot takes” designed to showcase the wisdom of whatever the current Obama administration policy was.

To anyone who had read their Malcolm Gladwell, this was all deeply familiar. In Gladwell’s new-age sociology of marketing, you had the “connectors,” who knew lots of people, and the “mavens,” who knew important things. Most important of all were the “persuaders,” or super-charismatic figures, at the top of the heap. All of which explains why Mad Men was one of the big cultural events of the Obama years: It’s a story about an inner circle of somewhat-hip mavens and connectors working for a visionary king of cool to shape the beliefs of millions of Americans.

Obama’s “echo chamber” was another such story, with the “mavens” (policymakers and experts) and “connectors” (journalists) busily selling the Iran deal for their own king of cool in the White House. Those who wanted to be convinced were pretty easy to convince: Obama had Israel’s back and would never grant a nuclear weapon to a regime that threatens the existence of the Jewish state. Filters make cigarettes better for you! Others were a harder sell, and so the message had to be turned against them: If you don’t support a deal that frees up billions for a regime that threatens war, then you’re a warmonger....

The widely-held fantasy on the left that President Donald Trump was going to be impeached by his own party six or 10 weeks after taking office was a mass temper tantrum by a group of people who believed in the awesome power of their own tweets. And why not? After all, if your bright explanations were a reason why Obama succeeded in pushing his agenda, then why shouldn’t you still be making U.S. foreign policy? Aren’t we in charge of this stuff?

The answer, of course, is that the Explainers were never in charge of anything. They were simply a cost-effective megaphone for the most powerful man in the world. Now that Obama is no longer in power, what remains is their own massive sense of entitlement and the mess that they have helped to make of the American press.

Joseph Perrone of the Center for Accountability in Science writes
about the science that the left rejects.
Consider nuclear power, the cleanest and most cost-effective means of meeting the world's burgeoning energy requirements. Two-thirds of professional scientists, including some of the world's top climate experts, call for greater development of nuclear power. Yet Gallup reports that Republicans are almost twice as likely as Democrats to support the use of nuclear energy.

It should come as no surprise that Republicans tend to favor the science of industry, and that the safety of industrial advancements are most often dismissed by Democrats.

Efforts to eradicate invasive Zika-transmitting mosquitoes, feed impoverished nations, and reduce pesticide usage have met insurmountable opposition from Democratic members of the anti-GMO crowd, as well as progressive organizations like Greenpeace and Natural Resources Defense Council.

The distaste (and willful ignorance) extends to synthetic substances more generally, with many of the same activists unwilling to appreciate the fundamental tenant of toxicology: The dose makes the poison. Just last week, healthcare giant CVS caved to activist demands to remove parabens, phthalates, and preservatives from its personal care products — even though such products won't expose consumers to harmful levels of any of these chemicals. But in their absence, consumers may find their makeup and lotions tainted by bacterial and fungal growth.

The political right isn't innocent of cherry picking, but broadly dismissing all Republican endeavors to improve STEM ignores valuable inroads made in recent years.

Consider the media's uniform condemnation of the HONEST Act, introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. The offending bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency to inform future regulatory actions with sound, reproducible science.

Instead of praising a Republican Congress for drafting legislation to address the "reproducibility crisis" currently plaguing professional research, major outlets lambasted the bill's potential to stifle environmental regulations by requiring major environmental events be duplicated.

In reality, "reproducibility" doesn't mean staging a second oil spill to corroborate the impact of Deepwater Horizon. But it does mean collecting a robust and extensive library of data, allowing other scientists to gauge the strength of a correlation with their own findings.

Conservative lawmakers aren't "anti-science" for wanting strictly evidence-based regulations. But the more we allow this brand of messaging to dominate, the more we sacrifice scientific prestige to partisan politics.

Charles Krauthammer writes
that, in some ways the Trump presidency has become normalized and conservatives have seen enough that they like that they can accept him. Sure, there is the wacky stuff like his sudden surprise that no one has asked why the Civil War began or his musings about what if Andrew Jackson had been alive to stop the war. We can just laugh at those sorts of statements since they don't really matter. But Krauthammer points to another off-the-cuff statement by Trump that had a real impact and not for the good of the interests of the United States.

Charles Krauthammer: Trump: 'normalized' but still scary
By Charles Krauthammer
POSTED: 05/04/2017 07:40:40 PM MDT

Charles Krauthammer Washington Post
Charles Krauthammer Washington Post
WASHINGTON -- With near unanimity, my never-Trump friends confess a sense of relief. It could have been worse. They thought it would be worse. A deep apprehension still endures but the international order remains intact, the republic still stands, and no "enemy of the people" has (yet) been arrested.

Admittedly, this is a low bar. And this is not to deny the insanity, incoherence and sheer weirdness emanating daily from the White House, with which we've all come up with our own coping technique. Here's mine: I simply view President Trump as the Wizard of Oz.

Loud and bombastic. A charlatan. Nothing behind the screen — other than the institutional chaos that defines his White House and the psychic chaos that governs his ever-changing mind. What to do? Ignore what's behind the curtain. Deal with what comes out in front: the policy, the pronouncements, the actions.

And so far they hang together enough — Neil Gorsuch, Keystone XL, NATO reassurances, Syria strike, Cabinet appointments — that one can begin to talk plausibly about the normalization of this presidency.

Hence the relief. But there are limitations to the Wizard of Oz approach. Some things do extrude from behind the curtain that are hard to ignore. And here I am not counting the gratuitous idiocies that can, despite their entertainment value, be safely ignored — for example, Trump's puzzlement as to why the Civil War was not avoided and how Andrew Jackson, who'd been dead 16 years, was so upset by its outbreak.

These are embarrassments, but they don't materially affect the course of his presidency or of the country. Some weirdnesses, however, do.

Such as, Trump's late-April pronouncements on South Korea. Being less entertaining, they were vastly underreported. Here's the context:

Trump is orchestrating a worldwide campaign to pressure North Korea on its nukes and missiles. He dispatches (finally) the USS Carl Vinson strike group to Korean waters and raises the possibility of a "major, major conflict" with Pyongyang. Meanwhile, we are working furiously to complete a THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea to intercept North Korean rockets.

At which point, out of the blue, Trump tells Reuters that Seoul will have to pay for the THAAD system. And by the way, that five-year-old U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement is a disaster and needs to be torn up.

Now, South Korea is in the middle of a highly charged presidential campaign. The pro-American president was recently impeached and is now under indictment. The opposition party is ahead. It is wary of the U.S., accommodating to North Korea and highly negative about installing that THAAD system on its soil.

We had agreed with Seoul that they would provide the land and the infrastructure, and we would pay the $1 billion cost. Without warning, Trump reneges on the deal, saying South Korea will have to foot the bill. This stirs anti-American feeling and gives opposition candidate Moon Jae-in the perfect campaign issue.

What is it with this president insisting that other people pay for things we want? And for what? In a $4 trillion budget, $1 billion is a rounding error.

So self-defeating was the idea that within three days, national security adviser H.R. McMaster had to walk it all back, assuring the South Koreans that we would indeed honor our agreement and send no $1 billion invoice.

But the damage was done. Moon's campaign feasted. The pro-American party was thrown on its heels. And the very future of THAAD — and a continued united front against Pyongyang under a likely Moon administration — is in doubt.

As for the trade deal, the installation of THAAD has so angered China that it has already initiated an economic squeeze on South Korea. To which Trump would add a trade rupture with the United States.

The South Korean blunder reinforces lingering fears about Trump. Especially because it was an unforced error. What happens in an externally caused crisis? Then, there is no hiding, no guardrails, no cushioning. It's the wisdom and understanding of one man versus whatever the world has thrown up against us. However normalized this presidency may be day to day, in such a moment all bets are off.

What happens when the red phone rings at 3 in the morning?

I'd say: Let it ring. Let the wizard sleep. Forward the call to Defense Secretary Mattis.

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David French is not impressed with Trump's executive order on religious liberty calling it "1) meaningless, 2) dangerous, and 3) meaningless."
Let’s dispense first with the vague and sweeping promise to “protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s proven only by actions, and if the order itself is considered one of those actions, then it’s self-refuting. The order doesn’t do anything “vigorously,” and it doesn’t “protect” anything at all.

Next — and this is important to understand — an executive order cannot repeal a statute, and legal restrictions on political activity by churches are statutory. They’re part of the so-called Johnson Amendment, a rarely enforced provision of the tax code that prohibits 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations from, as the IRS explains, “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

The Johnson Amendment is constitutionally problematic (to put it mildly). Lyndon Johnson rammed it through Congress for the noble purpose of stopping nonprofits from supporting his primary opponent and preserving his own political hide, and it’s been on the books ever since. Though it’s rarely enforced, it hangs like the Sword of Damocles over the heads not just of churches but of every 501(c)(3) in the United States. First Amendment lawyers are desperate to find a good test case to challenge it, but the IRS’s general lack of enforcement means that the right case is elusive. So the amendment remains....

Even worse, to the extent the Trump administration is using its “prosecutorial discretion” not to enforce the Johnson Amendment, how is that any different from the Obama administration’s decision to use its alleged prosecutorial discretion not to enforce immigration laws? Legislative problems demand legislative or judicial solutions.

The order’s last reported provision, a promise to “exempt some religious organizations” from the contraception mandate, is just as vague and meaningless as the order’s promise to vigorously protect religious freedom. Just as executive orders can’t overturn statutes, they also can’t overturn regulations, and the contraception mandate is on the regulatory books....

The administration can right now begin the rulemaking process to change the contraception mandate. Congress can right now begin the lawmaking process to repeal the Johnson Amendment. Congress can right now work to pass statutes that protect free speech and rights of conscience. That’s the real work of government. Anything else is fluff, a symbol at best.
Not everything can be done by executive orders. Sometimes they can be mere sound and fury signifying nothing.

Jim Geraghty advises public figures would stop complaining about how tough their lives are. Ivanka and Donald Trump have complained about how much harder things are for them in' their new positions. Then there are Hillary's complaints about being "dead broke" when they left the White House and how everything has been so unfair for them. The Obamas have complained about how much they have had to sacrifice and how they've lost their privacy.
Look, everybody, you asked for these jobs. You spent years, sometimes the bulk of your adult lives, taking steps to strive for these jobs. These jobs give you power, wealth, influence, status, and a quality of life unimaginable to most Americans. No one snuck up behind you, tossed you in a windowless van, and forced you to become a presidential candidate.

No doubt, the life of a political candidate or elected official is challenging. Everyone in the world gets to evaluate the job you’ve done. You’re expected to be gracious and attentive and concerned in every public appearance. If you serve in Congress, you often have to commute between Washington and your home state. Work demands time that you would rather spend with family. You get criticized all the time, and lashing out in response usually looks bad. While you may seem wealthy to the average American, you spend an inordinate amount of time asking even richer people for donations.

But come on, people. Ask any coal miner or janitor or construction worker if they wouldn’t rather hold elected office for a living.

Though “check your privilege” may be an insufferable sneer usually aimed at delegitimizing arguments with which the sneerer disagrees, the phrase’s kinder cousin, “Count your blessings,” is always wise advice. If you’re at the highest levels of politics, your life has probably turned out okay in a lot of important ways: You likely don’t have to worry about money or finding a new job if you’re booted from office, and you get to make an impact on people’s lives every day. In the big picture, you have very little to complain about . . . so don’t complain!

Legendary football coach Lou Holtz once advised, “Never tell your problems to anyone. . . . 20 percent don’t care and the other 80 percent are glad you have them.” That’s probably a cynical assessment, but generally good advice — particularly if you’re lucky enough to reach the halls of power.
And then there is model Chrissy Teigen who is complaining that her stress over having Trump as president and she had to have a toothe shaved because of her "crippling anxiety" over Trump's presidency. Apparently, she had to have Botox injected in her jaw to relieve tension from "constantly clinching" and demands of Trump"Pay my bill." Given that she and her husband John Legend have just bought a 8,520-square-foot house in Los Angeles for $14.1 million, I think she can afford her own Botox. Maybe she needs counseling to just chill out.

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Now it's Delta Airlines having its treatment of passengers being exposed to the public. A couple was asked to give up a seat that they had bought for their two-year-old son to fly in his car seat from Hawaii to California. They were threatened with being arrested and being sent to jail with their small children. Unfortunately, the whole thing was filmed and posted on youtube and now the airline is scrambling to explain why they were trying to take away a child's seat because he was in a car seat even though that is what their website recommends.
One airline employee tells him that under FAA regulations, 2-year-old children are not supposed to have their own seats at all and are supposed to sit in parents' laps for the duration of the flight.

"With him being two, he cannot sit in the car seat," one airline employee tells him. "He has to sit in your arms the whole time."

The accuracy of that statement is not entirely clear, as the websites for both the FAA and Delta appear to encourage parents to buy separate seats for young children and use a child safety restraint system.

"We want you and your children to have the safest, most comfortable flight possible," Delta's website advises parents. "For kids under the age of two, we recommend you purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat."
Eventually, they were kicked off the flight and had to find a hotel room and then pay $2,000 to fly the next day. The situation would have remained there if they hadn't posted the episode on youtube and now Delta is trying to smother the outrage by offering to refund their travel expenses.

Airlines will increasingly earn such bad publicity as people now know to whip out their phones and start filming such encounters between airlines employees and passengers. That's why Southwest is so smart to promise that they will no longer overbook flights so that people will not be forced off of flights after they have legitimately bought tickets. I know that, the next time I have to fly, Southwest may well be my first choice.