“The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was created in 1968 to help homeowners in flood-prone areas afford insurance. Federal law requires that mortgaged properties in designated flood hazard areas carry flood insurance, but insurance premiums in oft-flooded areas are significantly more expensive (if they’re even offered at all). The NFIP offers federal backing for policies that private insurers would not otherwise touch or that would be too expensive for most people to afford.”
“providing insurance to an otherwise uninsurable market comes at a price: A 2011 report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 22 percent of NFIP’s policies were issued at subsidized rates, about 40–45 percent of the cost of an unsubsidized policy. Between 2002 and 2013, the NFIP collected between $11 billion and $17 billion fewer in premiums than the market would have dictated.
As a result of charging premiums below market rate, the NFIP often runs over budget”
“The policies themselves don’t make financial sense. NFIP policy holders are not limited in how many claims they can file or how much money they can receive. As a result, more than 150,000 properties nationwide have flooded multiple times and received NFIP reimbursement each time.”
“An insurance company’s refusal to provide coverage in a high-risk area provides a disincentive to anyone who chooses to live there: When the inevitable happens, you’ll be responsible for the damage yourself.
But when the government assumes the risk on an insurer’s behalf and makes insurance cheaper than the market would dictate, it creates incentives for people to live in dangerous areas more likely to be battered by extreme weather events.
There is evidence that NFIP’s artificially cheaper policies have done exactly that. A 2018 study by Abigail Peralta of Louisiana State University and Jonathan Scott of the University of California, Berkeley, found that after a county joins NFIP, its relative population “increases by 4 to 5 percent” as residents stay in high-risk areas as opposed to moving away.”
“Two decades ago, John Stossel relayed the story of his beach house in the Hamptons, built on the edge of the water and insured for just a few hundred dollars a year through NFIP. It was fully or partially rebuilt multiple times over the years before finally getting washed away in a storm, with taxpayers footing the bill each time.
As the 2023 hurricane season gets underway, it’s high time for Congress to end the NFIP—a program that goes billions of dollars into debt providing subsidies to keep mostly wealthy people living in high-risk areas.”
“Government favoritism in the form of subsidies, tariffs, and other interventions allocates resources (labor and capital) differently than the way resources are allocated by consumers spending their own money. Ordinarily, businesses—spending their investors’ money—compete for these consumer dollars. Industrial policy rests on the assumption that such market outcomes don’t adequately support higher causes such as national security. If that’s true, it’s all the justification industrial policy needs. Nothing needs to be said about jobs.”
“As Noah Smith reminded his readers in a recent blog post, “Most of the actual production work will be done by robots, because we are a rich country with very high labor costs and lots of abundant capital and technology. Automated manufacturing is what we specialize in, not labor-intensive manufacturing.””
“Be wary of those who push industrial policy as a means of job creation. It’s a short-sighted approach that distracts us from the more important question, which is whether hindering the market allocation of resources is truly justified for national security or other valid reasons.”
“To qualify for a credit, an E.V.’s “final assembly” must occur in North America. If that sounds complicated for a consumer to figure out, the Department of Energy recommends searching individual cars by Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) “to identify a vehicle’s build plant and country of manufacture.” Past that, at least 40 percent of the battery’s minerals and 50 percent of its components must be sourced either from the U.S. or a country with which it has a “free trade agreement.” Those numbers will go up each year until they reach 80 percent and 100 percent, respectively. Meeting only one percentage requirement and not the other qualifies for half of the credit ($3,750).
The rules were written to exclude China. But China owns or controls the overwhelming majority of materials used in E.V. batteries. Not to mention, the European Union also lacks a free trade agreement with the United States. According to the Energy Department, only 14 vehicle models qualify for the full credit: five from Chevrolet, four from Tesla, two from Ford, and one each from Cadillac, Chrysler, and Lincoln. Some others qualify for half-credits due to sourcing requirements—for example, Ford manufactures the Mustang Mach-E’s battery in Poland—but American companies noticeably account for every single qualifying vehicle.
That’s a great deal for those four companies—Ford, General Motors, Stellantis, and Tesla—but a bad deal for everybody else. Numerous foreign automakers sell E.V.s in the U.S. but are disqualified from tax credits unless they build the vehicles domestically using parts sourced in a very specific way. Meanwhile, two versions of the Chevrolet Bolt—which uses outdated battery technology and was briefly taken off the market in 2021 when its batteries were catching on fire—qualify for the full tax credit under the new rules. So even though a consumer might find the similarly priced Nissan Leaf to be more reliable, a $7,500 tax credit might sway them away from it. That would be a boon to Chevrolet’s bottom line as it still gets to charge full price for the car, and the U.S. government will reimburse the purchaser at tax time.”
“There are two primary types of fossil fuel subsidies. Production subsidies offset the costs for companies involved in energy production. Consumption subsidies make the final product less expensive for consumers.”
“Fuel subsidies lower the cost of energy and incentivize consumption: When the price of fuel is artificially lowered, more people will drive and fewer will turn to carpooling and other commuting alternatives. After all, there’s a reason that demand for electric cars surges whenever oil prices spike.”
“A decade ago, a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that ending all fossil fuel subsidies would decrease global consumption by 29 billion gallons annually.
Last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact was the first time an international climate agreement included a call to revoke subsidies. Even then, it came after significant opposition from developing countries such as India and China.
The IPCC report notes that ending subsidies can hurt “the most economically vulnerable.” But the IEA noted that “subsidies are rarely well-targeted to protect vulnerable groups and tend to benefit better-off segments of the population.” It recommends prioritizing “structural changes” over short-term relief, while the IPCC report argues that if you want to help poor people pay for transportation, it may make more sense to redistribute the revenue you saved by cutting the subsidies.”
“”A bloc of at least eight corn belt Republicans are a hard ‘no’ on” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R–Calif.) bill to raise the debt ceiling unless proposed cuts to ethanol tax credits are removed from the package, Axios reported Tuesday. That group reportedly includes all four members of Congress who represent Iowa and at least four other Republican lawmakers from other “corn belt” states.
Because Republicans have a slim 222–213 majority in the House, any group of five lawmakers can hold considerable leverage by threatening to vote against a bill.”
“this is yet another warning about the dangers of creating government subsidies in the first place.
Even though they cost taxpayers billions of dollars every year, federal ethanol subsidies and tax credits are a tiny chunk of the overall federal budget. Yet they are incredibly valuable to the farming communities that reap those benefits—and that vote to elect lawmakers who promise to keep the federal cash flowing. For the members of Congress from Iowa and other Midwestern states, voting to cut those subsidies could be a career-ending move. On the other side, there’s no significant voting block demanding the removal of ethanol subsidies—even though biofuels are expensive, ineffective, and bad for the environment—so the lawmakers more intensely committed to their special interests usually get what they want.”
“subsidized firms must provide “high-quality childcare for plant workers.” They can even divert some of the subsidies to build child care centers and hire providers—activities that do little to increase the supply of microchips. Companies will also be required to do all sorts of financial disclosures and share part of any unanticipated profits with the government. Preference for funding will be given to companies that promise not to buy back stock. The New York Times cleverly named this approach the “Chips and Strings.”
These strings will significantly undermine chip manufacturing by increasing production costs. For instance, when the administration says high-quality child care, it really means more expensive child care because of requirements that caregivers be college-educated and such. Building those child care and chip factories will be subjected to Buy American and environmental requirements, Davis-Bacon pay requirements, and minority and women material sourcing requirements, along with pressure to be more open to the demands of labor unions.”
“Since 2010, a U.S. taxpayer purchasing an electric car could claim a nonrefundable tax credit of up to $7,500. However, only 200,000 credits could be claimed per automaker. Tesla, General Motors, and Toyota have all reached the limit.
The IRA removes the manufacturer cap and introduces a new credit of up to $4,000 toward a used EV, which could help anybody who can’t or doesn’t want to buy brand new. But the law also established several prerequisites that a vehicle must meet to qualify.
Since August, vehicles have been subject to a “final assembly” requirement, which says the car’s final assembly must have occurred in North America. That single restriction is complicated, as you can see from the Department of Energy’s list of eligible vehicles. The agency recommends that shoppers research cars by Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to determine eligibility. Those requirements carry over into 2023.
Starting January 1, individuals earning over $150,000 per year or households earning over $300,000 will no longer qualify for the EV tax credit. Electric cars that retail for more than $55,000, and electric trucks and SUVs over $80,000, are also not eligible. According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price for an EV is over $65,000.
Under the IRA, the credit also depends on the materials used to assemble a vehicle’s batteries. Certain minerals—chiefly lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, and graphite—are essential to constructing the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. Starting in 2023, qualifying for half of the $7,500 credit requires that 40 percent of the minerals used to assemble an E.V.’s battery be sourced from the U.S. or a country with which it has a free-trade agreement. To qualify for the other half, 50 percent of the battery’s parts must be sourced domestically or from a free-trade partner. Each of these percentages will increase over subsequent years.
In December, the Treasury Department suspended the mineral requirement until March, when it can issue final rules. But notably, the law requires that starting in 2024, no battery parts can be sourced from a “foreign entity of concern,” such as Russia or China. The same requirement applies to minerals the following year.”
“The E.V. tax credit is a convoluted mess. Because of the Treasury delay, most automakers will likely be able to offer half of the credit for two months. Then for the rest of the year, only certain models will qualify, forcing customers to check each individual car or truck to see. Finally, next year, fewer and fewer vehicles will qualify at all, as the U.S. is unable to source necessary materials from politically-favored places. Perplexingly, Treasury announced in late December that leases would be exempt from all sourcing and assembly requirements and eligible for the full $7,500 credit.”
“If Congress isn’t willing to end energy subsidies entirely, it could still make energy technologies more competitive by simplifying all 44 energy tax provisions. For instance, it could offer tax credits to companies based on what their emissions are, without requiring that they use any specific technologies to hit those targets. Unlike targeted subsidies, such performance-based provisions have historically led to less greenhouse emissions.”