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EDITORIAL ROUNDUP

on March 30, 2014 1:19 AM

Excerpts from recent editorials in U.S. newspapers:

Richmond, Va., March 25, Richmond Times-Dispatch, on flood insurance increases:

You really need to know only two things about the federal flood-insurance program to evaluate its wisdom. First, many owners say they couldn’t afford to have homes so close to the shore without the substantial subsidy. Second, the Obama administration considers it too socialistic.

Last year, Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency that runs the program, said the administration wanted to move away from “subsidizing rates” to “a capitalist, private-sector model of managing risk.” You know things have gone too far when the current White House wants a greater degree of laissez-faire.

Two years ago, Congress considered legislation that would have raised rates rapidly to market levels. Beneficiaries raised unholy heck. The other day, President Barack Obama signed legislation to increase rates more gradually.

Those hikes are still steep — as high as 18 percent a year. But their very steepness testifies to how out of tune the subsidized policies had become. Washington — meaning the taxpayers — is $24 billion in the hole because of them. In essence, that means the federal government has spent $24 billion encouraging riskier choices than people would otherwise make.

Homeowners faced with whopping premium increases — including a few hundred of them here in central Virginia — deserve sympathy. Politicians put down a rug and are now pulling it out from under them. That is the painful price of correcting a policy that never should have existed in the first place.

Reading, March 24, Reading Eagle, on the NRA and Obama’s surgeon general nominee:

Though the designee supports increased gun regulations, he’d play no role in forming policy.

The National Rifle Association’s attack on President Barack Obama’s surgeon general nominee is a too-common tale of corrupted power and political cowardice. It’s also, apparently, on the verge of derailing Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s candidacy.

No doubt many NRA backers will blindly rejoice, but we caution that this story should dismay both guns-rights advocates and gun-control proponents.

Because the crux of the NRA’s smear campaign simply bears no relevance to Murthy’s would-be role as the country’s top doctor. Murthy is Yale- and Harvard-educated. ... But the NRA began aiming its political guns at Murthy in a bullying February letter to Senate leaders, writing, “(There is a) likelihood he would use the office of surgeon general to further his pre-existing campaign against gun ownership.” ...

It’s true that Murthy advocates an assault-weapons ban and mandatory training. Patching gunshot victims’ gaping wounds when he was an emergency-room doctor likely helped shape Murthy’s position that gun ownership is more a harmful than a helpful right.

Still, the NRA’s arguments are specious.

Forget that at his confirmation hearing Murthy testified he had no intention of using the surgeon general’s post to advance a gun-control platform, because Murthy’s intent has little to do with the fact that a surgeon general has no role in gun-regulation formation.

It’s also a rich irony that the NRA would concern itself with accurate public-health information, given its open role as lobbyist ...

Despite this nonconnection between Murthy’s guns stance and a surgeon general’s role, the White House is reportedly recalibrating its strategy on Murthy, and 10 Democrats from heavily pro-gun states have hinted they’d vote against him.

Shame on the NRA for exerting its alarmist might against a qualified candidate not in lockstep with its one-way agenda. Shame on Obama for not having Murthy’s back. And shame on those Democrats for their me-first approach to politics.

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