The other day I ran into some of New Richmond's prominent Republican business owners and they were fuming with hate for Tea Party incumbent Brad Wenstrup. “Why?" I asked. "You're Republican." Here's the story:
Have you ever driven through the historic towns along the Ohio river? Some have charming turn-of-the-century buildings lovingly renovated by proud citizens and are fun destinations to browse antique shops, attend an old-time parade or baseball game, or spend some time pondering the river with a background of bluegrass music and a flock of ducks and geese at your feet.
Others are ghostly in their disrepair. A sign of things to come?
Nineteen out of twenty years, these river towns are the best place in the world to live. But then the 20 year flood happens and leaves behind a layer of mud. These century old houses and buildings had seen many floods before the dams were constructed so citizens know what to do—elevating possessions to a higher floor, staying away when the water rises, and cleaning up as a community when it leaves.
In 1968 Congress passed the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which allowed citizens in flood-prone communities to purchase flood insurance protection administered by the government and subsidized by taxpayers when unusual loss occurred. Sounds good, right? Hmmm...maybe not...
The law required home and building owners to pay flood insurance premiums if their property had a mortgage. Initially, premiums were affordable and folks could opt out if they had paid off their mortgage or purchased with cash. But the difficulty came when they wanted to sell their property and property values stagnated. The unsold properties either housed seniors or were rented at below-market values to a transient population.
More difficulty arose as premiums could not support the program and taxpayers started to cover the shortfall. By 2011 the debt was over $17 billion and Congress passed legislation to change premiums by basing rates on actuarial projection of real flooding risk. In 2014, when NFIP was $24 billion in debt from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy, Congress changed the process back from actuarial risk-based premiums to shared risk premiums.
This was bad news for taxpayers as well as for property owners in the lower risk areas--and its only going to get worse. With global warming increasing flooding risk in coastal areas the problem will compound to monumental proportions. Citizens of our historic river towns will be held hostage by high premiums from shared hurricane losses.
Is the representative in the Ohio 2nd Congressional District championing the needs of the citizens of the Ohio River towns which line the southern border of the district? Does Tea Party Brad balance the House debate over taxpayer's hurricane losses with calls for restraint over killing off the river towns' real estate values in his district?
Apparently not. And even Republicans hate him. Hmmmmm...