by Jerry Thibodeau
Only a small slice of the Atlantic laps up against New Hampshire shores, but that 18 mile stretch is home to scenic vistas and breathtaking sunsets. Residents of the Granite State can certainly understand one’s desire to live near the spray of saltwater and the roar of the ocean. While we love our coastline, should our precious tax dollars be used to insure the property of residents in other states who feel the waters’ same pull? A few new proposals from Washington say yes.
One proposal already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 3121) would use hard-earned tax dollars from taxpayers across the county – including New Hampshire – to expand the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to include federal wind insurance. One can debate whether the government should even be in the flood insurance business, especially when it’s operating at a deficit of nearly $18 billion. But now that members of Congress from hurricane-prone areas want to add wind damage to the program, the citizens of this great state should pay attention.
As we consider our national priorities and where to cast our votes during this critical primary season, one is left to wonder if it is truly the government’s proper role to encourage subsidies that force taxpayers across the country to shoulder the financial burden of storm damage for those who live in storm-prone areas along the coast. Should people in New Hampshire fund those subsidies that keep insurance premiums low for Floridians and other coastal residents in other states who build and rebuild homes on some of the planet’s most destructive paths? And let’s not forget, private insurance is available to cover these risks.
If Congress passes these ill-conceived programs, the liability to the federal government – and U.S. taxpayers – will skyrocket. More citizens will likely opt for the publicly-financed insurance rather than private. Unfortunately, when the next “big one” strikes, the federal government will end up paying twice – once for expanded insurance payouts and again for the disaster assistance that’s already available in this country to deal with natural catastrophes.
One of the characteristics of life in New Hampshire is the ability to speak strong and true. And right now,residents of our state need to speak up. The practical solution for dealing with catastrophic storm recovery requires a "middle ground" that has largely been ignored by Congress. Government should help people help themselves– by offering tax credits to those who responsibly harden their homes or relocate to safer areas. Other responsible courses of action could include offering government assistance only to those already living along the coast and in real financial need, and not to new property being developed or rebuilt in high-risk zones.
Let’s not allow the government to take money from our pockets in New Hampshire and put it into the wallets of high-income home owners and developers along this country’s 12,000 miles of coastline. Let’s hope our lawmakers apply some New Hampshire foresight to Washington’s latest bad ideas.
Jerry Thibodeau was born in Dover NH and has lived in Manchester for the past 33 years. Jerry owns a construction company specializing in high end finish carpentry. His company employs upwards of 140 carpenters.