I do understand that Chris Christie is devoted to getting as much money as he can from the federal government to repair the damage done by Hurricane Sandy. Succeeding in this effort may determine his political fate. He and Governor Cuomo came up with the total bill =$60 bn for all the damage and they expect the Feds to deliver every nickel -preferably in one lump sum.
Congressman Boehner seems less than enthusiastic about the idea, apparently avoiding Christie’s phone calls and approving only a fraction of the total at a time. New York senator Chuck Schumer seems as outraged as Christie. I used to live on the Jersey shore, almost exactly where the worst part of the storm hit, so I am as sympathetic as anyone to the plight of the affected homeowners. There are three problems with Christie’s outrage:
- Environmental scientists very clearly assert that as the planet warms up there will be many more violent storms just like Sandy. The coastline water levels will rise making many of these beach-side communities untenable. Does he expect constant federal bailouts?
- Over the last 30 years a disproportionate amount of real estate development has taken place in the lowest elevation areas in the tri-state region. Flood insurance premiums are state subsidized so homeowners and developers do not pay an appropriate price for the risk of building in areas that are especially vulnerable to storms. Even though the states subsidize these premiums they immediately demand Federal government money when flooding actually occurs. (!?)
- If all the redevelopment on Cuomo and Christie’s list is achieved by virtue of a giant check from the Federal government then brand new shiny houses will be rebuilt in the same flood zones where they should never have been in the first place. Why should taxpayers in Chicago pay for the reconstruction of Sea Bright New Jersey, so it looks just the way it did in 1996? Is it a national monument or some kind of historical treasure that we can not allow to disappear?
How is the number 60 billion arrived at anyway? Will the Federal government get a complete and full explanation for every dollar spent? Christie acts as though his/New Jersey’s cause is of national (economic) interest. I don’t want to be a heartless bastard. Many people have suffered terribly and have been treated very badly by insurance companies but – why should I, an Arizonian now, have to pay to rebuild any town in a flood zone? Let’s at least make sure that the money is spent relocating these people to higher ground.
Could it be that John Boehner understands the implications of climate change better than Governor Christie? Maybe he just understands how insurance is supposed to work.