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Same old, same old: Congress kicks the can on this failed program AGAIN

Conservative Review

It’s once again time to have a discussion about our broken and almost-insolvent flood insurance program.

Yes, the House and Senate have passed a stopgap measure that will push consideration of the money-hemorrhaging program that is the National Flood Insurance Sinkhole Program until after the midterms, sending the legislation to President Trump’s desk with less than 12 hours before Tuesday’s midnight authorization deadline.

This reauthorization, naturally, comes without any significant reforms to the program and merely kicks the fiscal can until after the election heat is off. How convenient.

In response to the approaching deadline, and the concerns about whether the extension would get a vote in time, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., urged his colleagues to “stop playing politics” and sign the check.

Here’s a helpful hint: If you ever see a member of Congress say that we shouldn’t “play politics” with a spending program that heavily impacts their constituency, that’s typically swamp code for “Please don’t spend too much time looking at the merits of this program and just put it back on autopilot ASAP.”

Never mind that the program pretty much lives on the brink of insolvency and requires a new bailout every few years, or that it literally incentivizes people to put themselves and their property in harm’s way, including the first responders who then have to go in on boats and helicopters to pull people off of roofs that never should have been built in high-risk territories in the first place. And never mind that it basically acts as a subsidy for uber-expensive beach houses.

And there are a lot of solid suggestions out there about how to reform the program, but the chances of seeing them implemented in the near future are pretty slim.

Let’s face it, even when the party that runs on fiscal responsibility is in power, there’s just a general aversion to doing anything more than tinker around the edges of major spending programs in DC.

Geography also plays a huge role in the intransigence of NFIP’s brokenness. Just like we’re likely never going to see real fiscal reforms to agricultural subsidies because of the number of fiscal hawks who come from rural districts that are hooked on them, the number of otherwise fiscally-conscious members from districts and states along the Gulf Coast keeps NFIP alive and sputtering.

And of course the timing never helps. Late summer through mid-Autumn is when Congress does most of the heavy lifting around the appropriations process. The annual deadline for funding the government is September 30, smack dab in the middle of hurricane season, during which NFIP is absolutely untouchable and unquestionable from a political standpoint.

If you want a more concise breakdown of the problems with the National Flood Insurance Program and what reforms it needs, here’s a CHB episode from when this issue kicked up last hurricane season.

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