Former realtors’ lobbyist calls flood program a ‘boondoggle’
The National Association of Realtors, the largest U.S. trade association and one of its most powerful, has historically played a key role in blocking efforts to bring about significant reductions in size and scope of the National Flood Insurance Program.
In addition to standing firmly against proposals to privatize the program, the NAR has questioned the “the affordability of the proposed premium rate phase-in” in the NFIP reform bill that passed the House last summer, and has even pushed to make the long-beleaguered program (which is $18 billion in debt) even larger by writing windstorm coverage in addition to flood coverage.
How interesting, then, to hear former NAR lobbyist Jimmy Williams telling NPR’s Planet Money program that he considers the NFIP “horrifying” and “a boondoggle.”
“What the flood insurance program, for all intents and purposes, does is…at the end, let’s say a hurricane hits your house, or let’s say you get flooded on the Mississippi River or whatever, which happens every two years. And then, so you have flood insurance. So you get paid because your property has been damaged, your home has been damaged, right?
“So what do you do? You build right in the same damn place. Oh wait, so then next year, another hurricane comes. So, the federal government, the taxpayer, has said, for all intents and purposes: ‘We know that you live in a place where hurricanes hit all the time, so why don’t you just keep rebuilding there?’”
Williams goes on to explain the process by which he and other lobbyists have pushed their agenda on flood insurance and other issues. To listen to the whole episode, which is the latest in a Planet Money series on the business of lobbying, go here.