Opponent of flood insurance bill says Congress motivated by raw politics, not sound policy
Andrew Moylan, senior fellow at the R-Street Institute, a conservative advocacy group, said both Republicans and Democrats feel pressured to act to protect their candidates running in the fall mid-term elections. It is clear that congressional leaders from both parties don’t want constituents taking out their frustration over higher flood insurance premiums on their candidates in the fall elections, although they’d be happy if they blame their political opponents.
A prime mover of the flood insurance debate, Moylan said, is the Louisiana Senate race with Democrats wanting to show that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., “is doing the most to stop premium increases” and Republicans wanting the credit for congressional action to go to Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, her leading Republican challenger.
Political considerations, he said, led House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to take the unusual move of removing authority over the flood insurance issue from House Financial Services Committee Chair Jon Hensarling, R-Texas., who opposes major changes in the 2012 law.
Other races influencing Cantor’s decision, he said, include the New York Congressional race in which Republican Michael Grimm is fighting for his political life in a district full of homeowners who suffered major losses during Super Storm Sandy; and a special Florida House race in which both the Democratic and Republican candidates are vowing to fight large premium increases. Grimm is the lead sponsor of the new House flood insurance bill.
“It’s all about the politics,” said Moylan, who contends that groups pushing for congressional action are exaggerating the extent of rate increases and pushing for legislation that undermines the Biggert-Waters goal of making the program more sustainable.
Cassidy said he’s unperturbed by R-Street’s contention that his and others’ fight against flood insurance rate hikes is being aided by political considerations of congressional leaders.
“Good policy is good politics and this is good policy,” Cassidy said. “I’m fighting for the interests of Louisiana. I am not bothered by the ‘inside-the-beltway’ crowd that does not understand the needs of Louisiana families facing unfair flood insurance rate hikes. Also, this isn’t just for Louisiana, this helps Americans across the country.”