As everybody knows, so far Obamacare succeeds only at taking away the insurance people already have and leaving them with higher premiums and weaker coverage. Now another government plan is jolting Americans with sticker shock. As this report notes, changes in federal flood insurance are beginning to quadruple premiums in some areas, harming homeowners and threatening real estate markets. On one property in California’s central valley the premium rose from $800 a year to $4,500 a year. The premium on a home on Merritt Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta rose from $1,000 a year to $1,000 a month, a yearly tab of $12,079. The prohibitive insurance cost devalued the property.
This has all been caused by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, a 2012 measure to bail out the National Flood Insurance Program, which was $18 billion in debt. After Hurricane Sandy, the debt increased to $30 billion. Rep. Maxine Waters, author of the act, now concedes that it imposed thousands of “unreasonable” premium increases and is backing a bill to reform her own legislation, very much in the style of Obamacare. One fix would delay some increases by four years and require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct an “affordability study.” Another would exempt agricultural buildings.
As it stands, Biggert-Waters will affect more people in 2014, possible all owner-occupied homes in certain areas. But FEMA bosses can’t say when this will happen or who will be affected. That makes perfect sense because FEMA, part of the Department of Homeland Security, is one of the more inept federal agencies. Despite a budget of $10 billion it remains a bust at managing emergencies. In fact, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Walmart did a better job getting actual relief supplies to victims. In general, the federal flood insurance program is a disaster and as much underwater as many embattled homeowners.
Politicians and bureaucrats are most concerned with bailing out a failed federal program. That’s why Biggert-Waters sticks Americans with sky-high premiums, devalues their assets, and leaves them more vulnerable. Politicians likely knew this in the first place but went ahead anyway. When the damage began to surface, they made a lame attempt at a fix. So it’s all very much like Obamacare.