Compared to, say, the nation’s $17 trillion debt or government’s hijacking of the health care system, the vast majority of us don’t care all that much about politicians fighting over flood insurance. But the dispute is actually one of principle: Is there any entitlement demand that we will refuse in favor of individual responsibility?
Here’s the deal: Taxpayers have been subsidizing homes and businesses in flood-prone areas for decades under the National Flood Insurance Program. All too predictably, the government insurance scheme is financially unsustainable and woefully mismanaged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The program’s debt to the U.S. Treasury now tops $24 billion and counting.
In an act of remarkably good judgment, Congress took steps in 2012 to phase out the subsidies and require rates to be based on a property’s degree of flood risk. Alas, members of the so-called flood caucus are now attempting to renege on the reforms at the behest of realtors and others that legions of property owners are suffering calamitous premium shock.
Don’t believe it. In fact, only five percent of the 5.5 million policies—primarily for second homes, businesses and properties that have experienced severe repetitive losses—actually face an imminent increase (but not more than 25 percent of their current rate in any given year).
It’s hard to fathom that Congress is actually debating subsidies for beachfront villas. To cave now on such an obvious call would mean that the entitlement crowd is held in higher regard by Congress than the fundamental principles upon which America was founded. That is an outcome for which all of us have an interest.