Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Some congressional Democrats might actually be having second thoughts about creating new spending programs. Last week, the House demonstrated unusual restraint in declining to put taxpayers on the hook for yet another government-backed insurance scheme. Unfortunately, the reluctance may turn out to be only a temporary delay.
On July 22, the House voted 228-183 to set the terms of floor debate on Rep. Gene Taylor's proposal to have taxpayers around the country pick up the tab for wind damage caused by major hurricanes. The Mississippi Democrat wants to expand the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), through which the Federal Emergency Management Agency offers subsidized flood-disaster insurance, by adding coverage for wind damage from hurricanes. But the promised debate on his plan never happened. Embarrassed Democratic leaders were forced to pull the bill at the last minute as it became clear they did not have the votes for passage. Sources expect another try after Labor Day.
Over the August recess, members ought to ask their constituents about the wisdom of enlarging an expensive program that already has spun out of control. As the Government Accountability Office succinctly put it, NFIP, by design, is not actuarially sound. The government watchdog agency raised concerns in a series of reports, explaining that the insurance program's subsidized rates did not reflect actual risk, that it had insufficient reserves and that it improperly forecast potential damage claims. Because congressional busybodies wrote the rules forcing acceptance of any insurance applicant - regardless of risk - the program has become a haven for owners of repetitive loss properties. …