WASHINGTON The new Chairman of the House Financial Services Program opened the 113th Congress today by proposing an end to federally subsidized flood insurance and a privatization of the program that was most recently soaked by losses from Hurricane Sandy.
Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas said one of his first actions as chairman of the panel will be to propose legislation to privatize the flood insurance program that has a current deficit of an estimated $20 billion.
“There is no doubt that Hurricane Sandy rendered unspeakable damage to both lives and property on our East Coast,” Hensarling said on the House floor this afternoon during debate over a $9.7 billion flood insurance tab for victims of the massive storm. “It represents truly one of the great natural disasters of recent history.”
“But here’s the tragic reality: the National Flood Insurance Program is broke. It is beyond broke -- it is now taxpayer bailout broke. Regrettably, not unlike our nation broke, trillions in debt. Debt to the Chinese, the shameful bill sent to our children and grandchildren.
“As many in this body know, I have long been critical of the National Flood Insurance Program. For more than four decades this experiment in government-provided flood insurance has proven to be ineffective, inefficient and indisputably costly to hardworking American taxpayers,” said the new Financial Services Chairman. “Last Congress we passed a re-authorization bill with modest reforms to begin eliminating outdated subsidies and get the program on a path towards actuarial soundness, but Sandy has hit before many of these provisions could take effect.”
“As Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, I wish to inform all members in this Congress, our committee will take up legislation to transition to a private, innovative, competitive, sustainable flood insurance market. One that serves the needs of all of our countrymen, but ends the unsustainable taxpayer bailouts once and for all. A great physical tragedy of today should never become an even greater fiscal tragedy for our children tomorrow.”