Flood insurance debate resumes as the Party of No waits for hurricane season

Why expect Congress to worry about your flood insurance?

Federal officials are putting fresh pressure on Congress to take action on the National Flood Insurance Program, whose authorization expires at the end of this month, one day before hurricane season begins.

The NFIP has been a political football in Washington for years, particularly because of the unsustainable debt load it took on in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. There is a broad push to reform the program and put it on a sound financial footing, but competing visions on that reform (including whether to forgive the program’s debts) have stalled legislation.

For now the program remains in business with repeated short-term extensions [which is what you get with today’s Republicans + Kool Aid Party], though in 2010 it was allowed to lapse for a few weeks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is warning of serious consequences if that happens again…

Federal law requires that homes in designated flood-risk areas have flood insurance before a mortgage can be completed. Because the NFIP is effectively the only flood insurance available in the United States, a lapse in the program means home sales cannot close in designated flood areas…

For now the debate appears to be focused on whether to move ahead with reform legislation pending in the U.S. Senate or to simply reauthorize the existing program.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, in an April 17 letter to congressional leaders, asked for a two-year reauthorization.

An insurance industry coalition…condemned that request last week…blah, blah, blah.

Are we supposed to believe that Congressional Republicans are motivated by concerns for homeowners who have only the NFIP to rely on for flood insurance? The Tea Party has to call the insurance companies for instructions on how to pee brew their tea. The same old dance of death for the simplest of actions on behalf of citizens.

Given their track record, the right-wing nutballs in Congress will probably want homeowners to give up their right to sue against eminent domain taking of their property – as compensation for being allowed to buy insurance.

Obama administration wants a smaller federal role in mortgages

The Obama administration’s much-anticipated report on redesigning the government’s role in housing finance, published Friday, is not solely a proposal to dissolve the unpopular finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It is also a more audacious call for the federal government to cut back its broadly popular, long-running campaign to help Americans own homes. The three ideas that the report outlines for replacing Fannie and Freddie all would raise the cost of mortgage loans and push homeownership beyond the reach of some families.

That fact is already generating opposition in Congress and among groups like community banks and consumer advocates.

But administration officials said they had concluded the country could no longer afford to sustain its commitment to minting homeowners. Better to help some people rent…

Which was the conclusion Clinton should have considered IMHO instead of lowering the bar, diminishing due diligence in mortgage loan requirements. Couple that with Republican deregulation, removal of oversight in combination with their bubbas on Wall Street designing mythical investment instruments for private trades – and you’re looking at the roots of the Great Recession.

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Obama’s stimulus work gets high rating. Congress as expected!

Job Search in Elkhart, Indiana where unemployment = 15.3%
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The U.S. public strongly approves of how President Barack Obama is handling efforts to pass a stimulus package but not so for Congress, poll results indicate.

Obama has a 67 percent approval rating for the way in which he is addressing government’s efforts to pass a bill, while Democrats and Republicans in Congress earned approval ratings of 48 percent and 31 percent, respectively, results from a Gallup poll released today indicated.

Recent polling also indicated a slight majority of Americans asked generally favor passing a stimulus plan of around $800 billion, a sentiment Gallup said remained constant over the last several weeks.

Obama’s overall job approval rating — 64 percent as of Sunday — is close to his approval rating on the stimulus, while Gallup’s last measure of favorable ratings for the Republicans in Congress in December was 25 percent, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency reported.

Anyone surprised? The Republicans are doing a stellar job at broadening and building support aren’t they? [End of sarcasm]