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Morning Action: House Leaders Press for Delay of Necessary Flood Insurance Reforms

FLOOD INSURANCE.  House leaders are pushing for a bill that would delay reforms made in the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which made necessary changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to protect taxpayers.  The reform would begin the process of homeowners in flood-prone regions being required to pay actuarial sound premiums rather than subsidized rates.  Financial Services Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) 84% tried to work with leadership to come to an agreement on reforms, but he is said “to have offered a proposal that fell short of what the “flood caucus” sought” (sub. req’d):

The House plan comes in response to a 2012 law (PL 113-76) Congress enacted that reduced subsidized premiums to address the Flood Insurance Program’s $24 billion deficit. It resulted in some homeowners facing thousands of dollars in added insurance costs, which forced lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to scramble for a solution.

The House bill would preserve subsidized premium rates under the National Flood Insurance Program for properties with “grandfathered” policies, instead of delaying premium hikes for up to four years like a Senate-passed bill (S 1926). Any property the program insures would pay rates based on the designated flood zone when the structure was built, even if is later determined to be in a higher-risk category.

We’re tracking the measure’s prospects and how much it exacerbates tensions between GOP leadership and hard-line conservatives. House leaders are taking a risk by bringing the bill to the floor under expedited procedures requiring a two-thirds majority of those voting to pass. The original text has more than 170 Democratic and more than 50 Republican co-sponsors.

TAXES.  House Republicans has produced a plan to simplify the tax code but add a new surtax on some high-income families:

An election-year plan by House Republicans to simplify the tax code would cut income tax rates but impose a new surtax on some high-income families.

The plan is to be unveiled Wednesday. A GOP aide who spoke on condition of anonymity said it would lower the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent. However, the plan would impose a new 10 percent surtax on some earned income above about $450,000.

The aide was not authorized to speak publicly about the plan before its release.

IRS.  An IRS bill designed to protect taxpayers from being wrongfully asked about their religious, political, or social beliefs by the IRS is up for consideration today in the House (sub. req’d):

Seven measures are on the suspension calendar, including a pair (HR 2530, 2531) by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) 69%, that would require the IRS to notify taxpayers when it shares tax information with another government agency and would bar the agency from asking questions regarding religious, political or social beliefs. 

OBAMACARE.  The Obama Administration has produced a report indicating that Obamacare will increase costs for 65 percent of small businesses:

Nearly two-thirds of small businesses that currently offer health insurance to their workers will pay more for coverage as a result of new rules in the health care law, as will millions of small-business employees and their family members, according to new estimates released by the Obama administration.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has spearheaded the implementation of the law, has acknowledged that new rules requiring insurers to offer guaranteed coverage and renewal options to small employers will likely drive up the price of insurance for some companies. So will rules banning insurance companies from varying their rates based on factors like a company’s industry or the age of its employees.

What we didn’t know was how many small businesses would see their rates rise and how many would see them fall. Now, it’s becoming clear.

“We are estimating that 65 percent of the small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates while the remaining 35 percent are anticipated to have rate reductions,” CMS’ Office of the Actuary wrote in a new report. Conversely, “the effect on large employers is expected to be negligible,” because most large companies run their health insurance programs in house.

OBAMA.  President Obama is meeting with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today (sub. req’d):

Obama meets in the morning with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and later announces two public-private partnerships aimed at boosting advanced manufacturing. In the evening, he delivers remarks to Organizing for Action, the political nonprofit that mobilizes support for his agenda, and answers questions at a separate dinner the group is holding.

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