Monday, June 29, 2009

WSJ slams Crist: "The Republican Barney Frank"

The Wall Street Journal has a history with Charlie Crist's property insurance efforts (a brutal op-ed here and Crist's response here).

Now the WSJ is taking on Crist again, with an op-ed titled "Hurricane Charlie: The Republican Barney Frank".

The occasion is Crist's veto of legislation last week that would have deregulated property insurance carriers in Florida; in effect, allowing big insurance companies like State Farm to continue writing policies in Florida.

The WSJ:

The bill would have trimmed the cost of a state-run enterprise that insures homeowners against storm damage. The program has an $18 billion unfunded liability and has taxpayers on the line for tens of billions in property losses from the next major hurricane. The Republican legislature tried to reduce those future losses, but Mr. Crist sounded like Barney Frank rolling the dice on Fannie Mae in declaring there's nothing to worry about.

To be fair to Crist, here's the other side, from a report by the Miami Herald:

Small Florida-based companies had opposed the bill because only the larger, national companies would have been allowed to offer a new insurance policy with deregulated rates, given the surplus requirements the new law would have mandated.

This bill ''would have left a lot of companies unable to compete,'' said Roger Desjadon, president and chief executive officer of Florida Peninsula Insurance.

Regardless of the policy, the politics is crucial.

If a hurricane hits Florida this year or next, and the state's left with a financial disaster, Crist will receive much of the blame, and his primary opponent, Marco Rubio, will be a very happy man (you know... in the same way you're kind of happy when the star of your worst team breaks his ACL. Or Tonya Harding-happy).