With Senate Bill 1926 passing on Thursday, the bill has moved onto the House, where it is being "held at the desk." It hasn't been assigned to a committee. 

This generally is a sign that the House is working on its own legislation on the subject of the held bill, but not always. There are already several bills filed in the House, but all have seemed to be parked in the House Financial Services Committee. The committee's subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing in November about the issue, but hasn't acted on any bills thus far.

So what happens now? It's hard to tell. Speaker John Boehner has already come out against delaying Biggert-Waters, as has the White House.

Why aren't the House and the Obama administration keen on delaying Biggert-Waters? Well, first there's the financial issue. The National Flood Insurance Program is billions of dollars in debt to the federal government. The GOP is loathe to do anything that will add to the national debt, especially less than a year after reforms were put into place. The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that the four-year delay called for in S 1926 will cost $2.1 billion.

Furthermore, the General Accounting Office has reported that delaying the rate increases will deter private insurers from entering the market and assuming more of the insurance burden. Private sector involvement in the flood insurance market has long been a goal of Republicans like Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, who chairs the financial services committee. 

And here's another reason. A lot of people who aren't directly affected by the problem are scoffing at the rate hikes, saying that the increases are hitting rich folks and their vacation homes and few others. That certainly seems to be the prevailing theme in this Washington Post editorial that came out Sunday, urging Congress not to delay the increases.

So, what do you think?

(3) comments

Steve Fouga

What do I think? I think maybe I should move back to Fort Worth, where the cost of living is lower, the standard of living is higher, the city is undergoing a cultural and architectural renaissance, there's no danger of public housing being built anywhere near a neighborhood I would choose, and there's no need for any type of flood insurance.

There shouldn't be any need for it where I live now, either, because it has never flooded. At least not since there's been a seawall. But for some reason, probably the lack of appropriate technical capabilities among the mappers, my neighborhood has been labeled a high-risk flood zone. Who knew? Certainly not me, when I decided to bring my talents to G-Town.


Steve Fouga

Sue, the government in general is operating at a deficit. I don't see the situation as individuals owing the government money, but rather that the government in general is trying to save money by cutting programs, and individuals are affected by the cuts.

If you're asking whether you should help pay for my flood insurance, the answer is yes. Much as I pay for your (or possibly your parent's) medical care, the public housing resident's rent, disaster relief for tornado victims in Kansas, and everyone's national defense. We're an interlocking, interdependent society -- everyone depends on everyone else.

Comment deleted.
Steve Fouga

Well said. Old John shared lots of good thoughts!

As for the reasons behind insurance subsidies for coastal residents, the best one I can think of is that certain industries important to the economy tend to be coastal: petrochemicals, maritime shipping, commercial fishing, tourism... These and their trickle-downs -- local banking, retail, medicine, construction, etc -- require people to live near the coast in order for the industries and businesses to be economical. Workers on the entire Texas coast as well as the rest of the Gulf coast, the Eastern Seaboard, certain parts of the West coast, and the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers are all in the same boat, so to speak.

I'm just riding their coattails in retirement, contributing nothing but tax dollars.


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