Saturday, May 31, 2008

Big Govt + Big Insurance = Big Tax Burden

Republicans and Democrats both selling out and taxpayers will end up paying for risky behavior by large corporations. This is very much like many of the ridiculous mortgage bailout bills.

At a time when the economy is more dynamic than ever and labor and capital are more mobile than ever, the last thing we need to do is get government involved in this process....the US Congress can screw up just about anything.

Link
The proposal -- backed by giant insurers Allstate Corp. and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., as well as Florida lawmakers -- focuses on "reinsurance," the policies bought by insurers themselves to protect against catastrophic losses. The proposal envisions a taxpayer-financed reinsurance program covering all 50 states, which would essentially backstop the giant insurers in case of disaster.

The program could save homeowners roughly $500 apiece in annual premiums in Florida, according to an advocacy group backed by Allstate and State Farm, the largest writers of property insurance in the U.S.

But environmentalists and other critics -- including the American Insurance Association, a major trade group -- say lower premiums would more likely spur irresponsible coastal development, already a big factor in insurance costs. The program could also shift costs to taxpayers in states with fewer natural-disaster risks.

It gets better:

Critics cite that debt forgiveness as an example of how states with little or no hurricane risk can end up footing the bill for damage in flood-prone areas. "For years, federal flood-insurance backers told us the program was financially sound, but the storms of 2005 left it $17 billion in the hole," said Steve Ellis of nonpartisan budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Even some analysts hired by lobbyists for the federal program acknowledge it has its risks. "If you charge something less than the private-market cost for homeowners' insurance, that creates a potential incentive to increase exposure on the coast" -- in other words, to build in risky or flood-prone areas -- said David Chernick of Milliman Inc., an actuarial firm hired by ProtectingAmerica.