Disasters Rolling up the Deficit

October 15, 2018

As I mentioned last week, ballooning climate disasters are putting pressure on the Insurance industry.
And, it turns out, ballooning the deficit, as well.

The Hill:

“Disasters aren’t anomalies — they are unfortunately a sure thing, and they are getting more costly every year,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

She says funding to pay for the disasters should be part of a regular budget process, or the nation will unsustainably add to its debt.

Congress approved $15 billion last September to help pay for the damages from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The following month, after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, it approved another $36.5 billion. It went on to approve about $90 billion of aid in additional aid in February.

The total of $140 billion over a six-month period is nearly triple the amount appropriated for the Department of Homeland Security, and about double the Education Department’s budget.

It also amounts to 18 percent of the total deficit for fiscal year 2018.

Conservatives have long argued that disaster relief should be offset with spending cuts.

“Hurricane aid shouldn’t be added to the debt. That’s akin to going to the Emergency Room after an injury, putting the charges on a credit card, and then pretending that the Visa bill is never going to arrive,” Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the subject.

But there are several reasons that the problem is likely to only get worse.

The first is that natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more costly.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Harvey, Irma and Maria were three of the top five most costly hurricanes in the nation’s history, and all of them occurred in just one year.

From 1980 to 2017, there were an average of 6 events each year that wreaked over $1 billion in damage, adjusted for inflation. But from 2013 to 2017, the average was 11.6 events per year. As of last week, 2018 already saw 11 weather events that cost over $1 billion.

3 Responses to “Disasters Rolling up the Deficit”

  1. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    Here are some figures I use to remind deniers that climate change is expensive.

    Michael estimated $25 billion
    Florence estimated $50-170 billion
    Maria estimated $90 billion
    Irma estimated $172 billion
    Harvey estimated $180 billion, 40,000+ homes, 500,000 cars destroyed
    Katrina $108 billion
    Sandy $71.4 billion
    Ike $29.5 billion
    Andrew $26.5 billion
    Wilma $20.6 billion
    Irene $15.6 billion
    Matthew $15 billion
    Charley $15 billion
    Ivan $14.2 billion
    Rita $10 billion
    Frances $8.9 billion

    Total $971.7 billion

    That’s almost enough to be able to scrap every fossil fueled car in the US and replace with EVs.
    If these damages continue to mount, then the world is going to be spending all its energy in recovery, fixing and rebuilding and standing still instead of progressing.
    Still, lots of jobs for builders, carpenters and funeral directors.

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    She says funding to pay for the disasters should be part of a regular budget process, or the nation will unsustainably add to its debt.

    During the Iraq invasion fiasco the National Guard were sent overseas to supplement the regular military, taking them away from their more useful and traditional role of handling local disasters. Because of this, after Katrina the Feds sent in the military to help deal with the disaster. How bassackwards can we get?

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