Subsidy proposal degrades taxpayers and environment

It’s time to join the growing number of voices expressing caution about the perils of legislation aimed at adding wind coverage to the government-run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Adding wind insurance to the NFIP essentially lulls property owners into a false sense of security and promotes building — and rebuilding — in coastal areas routinely slammed by tropical storms and hurricanes. Given the effect of climate change, larger and more destructive storms will be a routine phenomenon — which is why it’s ridiculous for the federal government to subsidize coastal mansions and vacation homes at the expense of taxpayers. To constantly build and rebuild on fragile oceanfront ecosystems rife with wildlife and native species is simply irresponsible.

Now, Congress seems poised to establish an even bigger federal bailout program for all natural disasters. On Nov. 8, the House passed a bill that will have the federal government provide state insurance and reinsurance programs with financial backing of up to $200 billion a year for natural disasters. This aid would be on top of federal disaster assistance that already is available in the U.S. in the event of a wide range of natural disasters.

In a rush to follow suit, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) this week introduced similar legislation in the Senate. The bill would help states pool and diversify catastrophe risk insurance and reinsurance for hurricanes, floods, fires and other natural disasters — and require the federal government to provide low-cost federal loans to states that can’t cover their bills.

Where will the money come from for these proposed programs? One place: the American taxpayer.

While some lawmakers think adding wind protection to the NFIP and providing federally backed reinsurance and loans is merely a welcome mat to new economic development in lands of sun and sand, it instead casts a gray pall on the sparkling blue horizon. With the environmental loss posed by continued development in environmentally sensitive lands, the potential burden placed on the American taxpayer, and under priced insurance incentives dangled in front of those who develop in hurricane-prone areas and other vulnerable properties, these legislative proposals are truly a lose-lose gambit.

If they sail through Congress and become law, the American taxpayer could theoretically be pushed to the brink. It’s time for Americans to rethink where and how people build their homes and businesses. And having the federal government help to insure homes and businesses in high-risk areas isn’t the right answer.

Albuquerque, N.M.


Working poor, vets not fairly represented

From Joe Serra
(Regarding article, “Short of cash, NRCC seeks millionaires,” Nov. 9.) My family is the living, breathing example of the working poor in our country. My wife and I have been married for 19 years; we have six great children; we are both college graduates and we both work full-time jobs. I was downsized in 2001 from the telecom industry and was out of work for nearly two years. We lost our house — everything. Today we are trying to rebuild.

I am a Democrat running for Congress in the 14th district of Illinois to represent our military and veterans, as well as the working poor of America who, unfortunately, are persona non grata and are not represented by the overwhelming majority of wealthy politicians who litter Washington and represent only themselves and their wealthy friends. The evidence of this is the devastation that continues to be ignored today in New  Orleans from the effects of Katrina, and on the other hand, the wealthy who have suffered during the California “megafires” and who are already rebuilding their homes.

Politics has become the playground for the wealthy only — poor need not apply because you will not be recognized by any of the parties unless you can pony up millions to buy a campaign. This is a terrible problem that has been escalating for decades and must be fixed. I love our country greatly and want only to do what is good and right, but because money drives politics the poor will always be represented by the wealthy.

Geneva, Ill.