SmarterSafer.org has sent a letter to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to protect taxpayers and reduce inefficient federal spending by reforming the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Murray and Hensarling are co-chairs on the committee which is also charged with finding federal deficit reduction measures.
The letter says "Our diverse coalition believes that Congress could protect taxpayers and reduce inefficient federal spending by reforming NFIP. For over 40 years, the federal government, through NFIP, has provided significant subsidies for flood coverage. This has encouraged development in both dangerous and environmentally important and sensitive areas. These subsidies provide a disincentive to risk mitigation and puts American taxpayers at significant risk."
The letter makes some very valid points as the NFIP is currently nearly $18 billion in debt to federal taxpayers, with this amount likely to increase as a result of recent flooding. If the NFIP isn't reformed, American taxpayers are likely to be called upon to bail out the program time and time again. SmarterSafer.org is asking the committee to consider reforms based on common sense which will help protect both taxpayers and those living in areas considered to be at risk. These include eliminating subsidies over a five-year period and establishing a mapping council to ensure all maps are up-to-date and reflect real risk. Other possible reforms include requiring FEMA to examine the ability of the private sector to assist the program through reinsurance or catastrophic bonds, as well as streamlining and strengthening mitigation efforts.
The House has already passed a bipartisan bill to reform the NFIP, while a similar bill has been unanimously approved by the Senate Banking Committee. The NFIP is due to expire on November 18, and the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was created in order to come up with $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction measures over a ten-year period by November 23.
SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally responsible, fiscally sound approaches that promote public safety. It is strongly opposed to legislative proposals which would encourage people to build homes in hurricane prone or environmentally sensitive areas, through the creation of new programs that would directly or indirectly subsidize the homeowners insurance.