I've blogged a few times over the past year about the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Act that radically changed the ground rules of the Natgional Flod Insurance Program (NFIP) and at its core effectively gutted Federal subsidies for flood insurance for many homeowners. The result has been sharply higher flood insurance premiums (in some cases, ten times higher) with the shift to risk-based rather than subsidized pricing. The situation has been compounded by redrawn flood maps in many areas that have placed tens of thousands of homes in flood zones (and therefore require flood insurance if they have mortgaged) that weren't in flood zones previously.
Faced with sharply higher premiums, homeowners in flood prone areas are up in arms, and pressuring Congress to do something. The Senate did, and passed a measure delaying key features of Biggert-Waters like risk-based pricing and mandating an affordability study. But, true to form, the Republicans in the house have been unable to move a similar measure. So for now, Biggert-Waters is in force.
The situation is a mess. But this genetic Democrat is getting a perverse pleasure watching southern Republicans in coastal districts from Virgina to Texas squirm over this. They've been hell bent on gutting government programs and subsidies, like food stamps and Head Start, and subsidies for flood insurance falls under that same philosophical umbrella. Except they have lots of Republican constituents that are up in arms that the government has pulled subsidies from them. Be careful what you wish for.
Those coastal conservatvies are in a tough spot. They haven't been successful in getting their inland Tea Party colleagues to jump on board to pass a measure that would likely have a price tag in the billions. There is some Democratic support, but it looks like the Democrats want a pound of flesh for that support. (I'm sure some Dem pols are relishing the fiscal hypocracy on the other side of the aisle.) Twice in the past week provisions that would have mirrored the Senate bill were attached to other legislation, but those unrelated bills included items that were objectionable to the Republican majority in the house and were voted down on party lines.
So Congress is yet again at an impasse, with citizens caught in the middle. Maybe, just maybe, it will cause some of those coastal Republican voters to think twice before they pull the Republican lever in the next election. You can't have your cake and eat it too.