The Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy redemption tour now heads to the National Flood Insurance Program, but it’s an issue where he may not find that much traction.
Last fall, rules alteration to the major mechanism for providing flood insurance in the country began shifting gears to price policies more realistically. A new methodology started bringing price increases to around two-thirds of the population, almost most will be relatively small, with larger amounts for the few phased in over the next several years. At that point in time, the changed rates impacted only new policies and the almost quarter who would see decreases on annual renewals.
Last week, the other shoe dropped with renewals suffering the increase commencing. Louisiana disproportionately, not surprisingly given its geography, will take a hit with only a fifth or so of ratepayers seeing reductions. And about 3 percent will see dramatically higher rates over the coming years, with these increasing not more than a rate of 18 percent a year for most, although some special cases could be 25 percent. But for single-family primary residences, a cap of $12,125 will be in place this first year, and other subsidies such as those reflecting how well local governments fortify against floods can lower this cost.
However, it will have a large impact on a few Louisianan homesteads, which has Cassidy concerned. As the new April 1 structure kicked in, Cassidy denounced it but particularly Democrat Pres. Joe Biden, because the change came nor from statute but in rules, where Biden could intervene and stop it. Politically, it doesn’t hurt to bash someone as unpopular in the state as the president.
Nor is this populist crusade something Cassidy decided to pick up in response to recent dismal polling numbers that suggests he will be out of a job after 2026. Back in October when the first changes began infiltrating, he argued the same thing on the Senate floor and to the media, and a few others in Congress echoed that sentiment.
But if Cassidy is to go all populist – ironic because of his intellectually incomprehensible decision to vote for convictions of populist GOP former Pres. Donald Trump on moot and spurious charges, even if embracing a populist issue meshes with Louisiana’s political culture – he didn’t pick that great of an issue to stop the deterioration of his support.
As it turns out, most Louisianans who don’t see a decrease – about 70 percent of all policyholders – will see not more than a $120 annual policy premium increase, so that issue won’t resonate and especially as this wouldn’t look different from the increases they have seen over the last several years. And of the fifth or so who will see decreases and haven’t endured increases lately, Cassidy is volunteering to them that he wants to reverse that, so that might make them feel more negatively about him.
The dramatic rate increase for a few happened because of the uncoordinated and overly-regulated nature of the NFIP, caused by policy-makers. Preventing the unwinding of that, which requires further policy changes from Congress, doesn’t solve the problem of massive NFIP debts and a system which ends up subsidizing riskier construction. The federal government needs to stay the course on this which will leave Cassidy only able to attempt scoring desperately-needed political points.