Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Hidden Washington

Well as the 11th Congress winds up its time and becomes a footnote to US history some amazing things are happening. First, a clear one-year extension with no changes of anykind of the NFIP appears likely to be signed into law shortly. I predicted this last spring and now the 112th will be charged with making sense out of the NFIP since it appears no one competent to do so in the Administration. Just a reminder! My two basic reforms were relatively simple ones. First, the NFIP should never pay for any hazards not disclosed on its maps. If this had been in place as the rule the flood wall failures during Hurricane Katrina in NOLA would not have created a large amount of the debt incurred by the NFIP that now appears to be driving eventual reform. Second that certain coverages be eliminated such as that for installed and uninstalled carpet which has amounted to up to 20% of payouts in some events and been conducive to fraud.

Okay the NFIP aside. No major modification of almost any FEMA programs, functions, or activities by the 111th Congress. Why? Because FEMA programs, functions, and activities far down on the administration list of priorities in its first two years. If you exclude the STAFFORD ACT and its problems, specifically its failure to be all-hazards and to NOT be a crisis management umbrella statute, perhaps this is of little significance in the long run.

Okay! DHS generally. The Fusion Centers authorized by statute in 2007 loom larger and larger as a potential unaimed missile at American privacy and civil liberties. The 112th will likely have this placed on their agenda, although not willingly since Congress has almost no interest in privacy and civil liberties issues and policies. There clearly are exceptional members that do have an interest but none since Senator Patrick Monyihan have had much power or influence. Clearly the TEA PARTY does not have the depth of subltly to understand these issues and now the only question is their impact in the elections, mainly on the Republicans but also the DEMS.

What is fascinating, assuming that a length CR [Continuing Resolution] for annual appropriations gets through this week there is no real need for a lame duck session. The Obama Administration is ambivalent and the main concern is whether one or both houses change leadership to the Republicans in the election. They (the administration) has shown little capacity for dealing with Congress, maybe any organization led by a strong female, and I would argue did little to help or guide the DEMS in the 111th. This means no real interest in any lame duck session unless an issue that may impact the 2012 elections. Further economic stimulus, or other some such issue.

But what is fascinating is that Pelosi in the HOUSE not so much Reid in the Senate now has her heart set on a lame duck session no matter what the Senate or the Administration think. She is becoming a force of nature not just a political force. Hey perhaps with the security of growing up as the child of one of Baltimore's best mayors, and marrying wealth, and being elected speaker is it possible Pelosi is the future drive sprocket of the DEMS. Hey when even someone as skilled politically as Steny Hoyer misjudged her this is becoming rapidly the most interesting dynamic in Washington.

Well my bet is on Pelosi and a lame duck session regardless of what anyone else is thinking or wanting. This could be real fun since Pelosi does have the ear of lobbyist who recognize that if the DEMS hold the house, Pelosi will be the key player for the runup to the 2012 elections. Hey there are reasons, DAVID and RHAME are going back to the "saftey" of Chicago. Apparently the one person with no lack of the appropriate endocrines in DC is female. WOW! This is the biggest story around and if the DEMS hold the house PELOSI will become a really significant part of history. Who would have guessed?