POLITICS

Oppose corporate welfare, get called corporate shill in ‘The Nation’

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Liberal magazine Mother Jones has a very good article on the federal flood insurance program, which subsidizes people’s beachfront homes at taxpayer expense. The program has led to “below-market insurance rates that have permitted, if not encouraged, construction in flood zones.”

In this light, Ray Lehmann at the free-market R Street Institute called for privatization of the flood insurance program. If private companies, rather than taxpayers, were insuring beach houses, the premiums would reflect actual risk. Development would be more sane.

Seems like a good area of potential cooperation for environmentalists, free-market types, and liberals who don’t like subsidizing beach-house millionaires.

But then enter The Nation magazine and Naomi Klein. She writes:

Ray Lehmann, co-founder of the R Street Institute, a mouthpiece for the insurance lobby (formerly a division of the climate-denying Heartland Institute), had another public prize in his sights. In Wall Street Journal article about Sandy, he was quoted arguing for the eventual “full privatization” of the National Flood Insurance Program, the federal initiative that provides affordable protection from some natural disasters—and which private insurers see as unfair competition.

She should have read the Mother Jones piece, which included this quote:

“It’s like rat poison to them,” said Tony Bullock, an insurance industry lobbyist, explaining how the risk outweighs the benefit for private insurers. “You need the federal backstop.”

So insurance industry lobbyists say “you need the federal backstop.” A free-market guy says “strip the federal backstop.” A liberal journalist replies, you industry shill!!!

The Nation’s Katrina van den Heuvel pulled that same trick on Obamacare, accusing Obamacare opponents of doing the bidding of the drug industry, although the drug industry supported and helped write the bill. Center for American Progress attacks light-bulb-law opponents as industry shills, while noting the industry likes the law.

Lehmann has written a letter to the Nation. We’ll see if Klein responds.

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