Clarion Ledger Editorial Reveals Behind the Scenes Politicing

I read today’s Clarion Ledger Op-Ed in support of HR 3121 and found some very interesting tidbits buried in the piece most notably that Senator’s Cochran and Wicker have joined Louisiana Senators Landrieu and Vitter in placing a senatorial hold on S. 2284, the re-authorization bill for the National Flood Insurance Program. As we previously noted, S. 2284 does not bring structural change to NFIP and does not contain the multi peril wind provisions found in HR 3121. While the old saying “better late than never” certainly applies to Senator Cochran and his newly found zeal to represent the interest of his coastal constituents we do appreciate both he and Senator Wicker joining the fight to solve our coastal insurance crisis.

The cynic in me now wonders how Kevin Drawbaugh, a Reuters reporter known for his inaccurate and misleading reports on these issues will try to spin today’s revelation that Mississippi’s senator’s have joined those in Louisiana in blocking Senator Dodd and his benefactors at big insurance from perpetuating a flawed, interest conflicted NFIP. Perhaps he could collaborate with Marsha Thompson at WLBT in Jackson and dredge up more information on Kerri Rigsby’s sex life.  Strange thing is I saw neither reporter at Gene Taylor’s August 13, 2007 town hall meeting which was attended by Nancy Pelosi and her House of Representative leadership quoted so well by the Clarion Ledger today, who had Natalie Chandler in attendance.

Without further sarcasm, today’s Clarion Ledger editorial:

Mississippi’s senators are commendably exercising their muscle to block reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program unless Hurricane Katrina-like wind protection is included.

Senior Sen. Thad Cochran and interim Sen. Roger Wicker have joined fellow Gulf Coast lawmakers to keep the Senate from voting on the bill unless they will be allowed to amend it so flood insurance purchasers can add wind coverage to their policies.

The provision was originated by 4th District U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, with the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., making it a truly bipartisan effort with Mississippi’s Republican senators. Sen. Hillary Clinton has backed similar legislation to add a national catastrophe fund. Taylor said he hopes her Democratic rival for the White House, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, also takes up the issue. But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, opposes both provisions.

The Taylor-Pelosi bill (HR3121) came after Pelosi led a 13-member congressional fact-finding mission to the Coast in August. Listening to victims at a town hall meeting in Bay St. Louis, she pledged to help, but even she acknowledged: “We’re up against a mighty force (lobbying efforts of the insurance industry).” And she was right. Most insurers oppose efforts to add wind coverage, saying private insurance is ample.

But, as the “wind vs. water” dispute drags on, with homeowners and businesses on the Coast unable to find or afford insurance, that’s true only to the extent that insurance is available at exorbitant rates from private insurers and only where they choose (i.e., profit).

Taylor and others also say private insurers pushed much of the cost of hurricanes Katrina and Rita onto the federal government by denying wind claims and insisting all damage was caused by flooding, which is covered under the federal program.

As has been noted in clarionledger.com’s Forums in Katrina-related issues, under “Mississippi Insurance Forum,” home insurance rates are skyrocketing in all the nation’s coastal areas. Catastrophic insurance for hurricanes remains a need, and ultimately must be provided.

For those in the political parties whom we count as our regular readers please note we will not consider supporting John McCain until he clarifies his pro insurance industry stance on NFIP re-authorization. Though I doubt he has much of a chance in November, he can not win the Presidency without Florida. I am certain the Democratic nominee will happily publicize Senator McCain’s resistance to fixing the coastal wind insurance crisis.

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