Friday, February 17, 2006

$3 Billion More For Hurricane Relief

I mean, for more flood claim payments:
In a voice vote, the House approved a measure to increase from $18.5 billion to $21.2 billion the amount the National Flood Insurance Program can borrow from the Treasury. The Senate passed the bill last week.
$3 billion more to add to Bush’s fuzzy math. The previously fuzzy $85 billion turned into $87 billion on the White House website, which is more accurately inaccurate if you round up. So add the new borrowing limit for the NFIP and the magic number is $90 billion. Plus the $20 billion that Bush wants in a supplemental spending request and you have $110 billion, or at least that will be the talking point for the White House.

The Associated Press reports the White House’s numbers, but at least gives a breakdown:
The latest request would push total federal spending for rebuilding to more than $100 billion, according to administration tallies. That reflects about $68 billion in emergency appropriations, $18.5 billion in available flood insurance funds and the latest $19.8 billion request.
I don’t understand why they cite the old borrowing limit (18.5) and not the new one ($21.2). And they include the rounded-up number (68).

Once again, here’s my breakdown:

* September 2, 2005 – Bush signs $10.5 billion disaster relief bill

* September 8, 2005 – Bush signs $51.8 billion disaster relief bill

* December 31, 2005 – Bush signs defense bill which includes $29 billion in hurricane aid, of which $5 billion is new funds and $24 billion diverted from the already authorized $62 billion.

* February 15, 2006 – Congress raises NFIP borrowing limit to pay flood insurance claims to $21.2 billion.

* February 16, 2006 – Bush asks for $19.8 billion supplemental for hurricane relief.

All the Gulf Coast is getting up to this point is still $67.3 billion, and a lot of that was spent right after Katrina hit to fund emergency operations. Stephanie Grace in the Times-Picayune takes a look at some of those fun numbers.

I understand that the money to pay flood insurance claims comes from the US Treasury. But, that is not tied to hurricane relief. Flooded homeowners on the Gulf Coast would be getting that money if a hurricane hit or not. If you have flood insurance, you are covered for when your house gets flooded for whatever reason. That’s why you pay the premiums.

When Bush’s supplemental bill passes the House and Senate, I will add the $19.2 billion to my count. But I won’t include the $21.2 billion in flood insurance borrowing.

And remember, the NFIP is supposed to pay back the money it borrows to the Treasury. Of course, there is no way possible that the NFIP can do that, but that’s beside the point. Do you think the federal government can really choose to not pay flood claims? Then they would really have to throw some aid our way.

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