Reforming (or not) the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

I wrote a short piece for the London School of Economics’ blog on American Politics and Policy. The blog post is based on an article I wrote concerning Congress’ effort to reform the National Flood Insurance Program after Hurricane Katrina, and then its almost immediate decision to repeal those reforms. The reform measure drastically reduced or eliminated subsidies, ended the grandfather clause, and number of other things; the second measure restored them.

To briefly summarize the piece, I find that Congress was able to pass the reforms—despite the fact that those reforms would increase insurance premiums for some of their constituents—because the issue received very little public attention while it was being considered. And receiving little attention, there was virtually no pressure placed on Congress by parochial interests or constituents aimed at securing special benefits at the public’s expense. After Congress passed the reform legislation (the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012), however, the public attention—and thus public pressure on Congress—increased dramatically. Congress responded shortly thereafter by passing the Grimm-Waters Act of 2014, which repealed most of the important policy reforms they had enacted just two years before. You can read the blog post here, which elaborates my findings, or the full-length article (which goes into great detail, for the stout of heart) here.

The necessity of eminent domain for Donald Trump’s proposed border wall

I wrote a short piece for the Monkey Cage — a political science blog hosted by the Washington Post — based on my recent article on eminent domain (which I also blurbed here at DPP). The very short version is: if Donald Trump is elected president and seeks to make good on his promise to build a wall across America’s southern border, he would have to use the government’s power of eminent domain to take thousands of properties from individuals and small businesses–mostly in Texas. My research indicates that eminent domain is unpopular in the best of circumstances, but is really unpopular when the takings are for non-traditional “broad” uses that the public would not actually use. As a result, I argue that the wall would become really unpopular very quickly if Trump (or anyone else, for that matter) tries to actually build such a wall.

See the full piece here.

Editor’s Note: And, if you’re curious about hearing Trump’s perspective on eminent domain, in his own words, here’s an interesting YouTube video for you to view.