The Associated Press's poll of editors and news directors declared the British Petroleum oil spill 2010's biggest story. They're way off the mark. The oil spill's impact recedes from the Gulf of Mexico and from the American mind. What will live on from 2010 is the movement of Americans disgusted with a government that knows no bounds.
The year began with the great health care debate, which was as much about process as policy. A majority of Americans rejected the underlying premise of the legislation—that more government intervention will make our health care system better. But even many sympathetic to government-run health care knew something was wrong with the process used to advance the legislation.
The dense, two thousand page bill was unread by Members of Congress. Americans saw Senators' support openly bought with favors, learned terms like “deem and pass” and “reconciliation,” and watched a determined Congress circumvent the normal legislative process. Constituents' concerns were dismissed, and the public told they'd learn what's in the legislation after it was passed.
And indeed the public is learning plenty. Health care costs will rise, not fall, as result of ObamaCare. While the Administration assured the public that the individual insurance mandate wasn't a tax, they now defend its constitutionality in court as justified by the government’ power to tax. The Department of Health and Human Services busily hands out waivers to new mandates, a process inevitably viewed as political, confirming for the public that there will always be one set of rules for the politically connected and another for the rest of us.
The year closed with a new dose of government over-reach. Days before Christmas, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) claimed authority over the Internet and moved to impose “net neutrality.” Net neutrality is the term used for the FCC’s move to determine the rules for “reasonable” network management, and limit Internet providers from charging content providers to deliver their services. The “net neutrality” concept has been voted down in Congress, and a federal court has already ruled the FCC lacks authority to regulate the Internet. Yet in spite of this, the FCC felt free to simply expand its authority and change the rules of our information superhighway.
Needless to say, the FCC's ruling isn't the end of the story. Lawsuits will be filed and Congress may act to officially strip the FCC of power over broadband. Yet that doesn't mean damage isn't being done.