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 Congress responded shortly thereafter by passing the Grimm-Waters Act of 2014, which repealed most of the important policy reforms they had enacted just two years before.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.