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It is a mystery why the federal government encourages Americans to build or purchase homes in areas that are prone to flooding. But for some reason, it does -- and expects the rest of us to pick up the pieces when flooding strikes!

Congress recently passed -- and President Barack Obama signed into law -- a bill to extend the federal flood insurance program. There had been complaints that some people who were trying to buy homes in flood-prone areas were unable to close on the sales. That's because they could not get the government-backed insurance, which had expired in late March when Congress did not renew the program.

The new law extends the program through May 31, but it is still unclear why taxpayers should have to subsidize unwise decisions to buy or build homes in places so likely to flood that private insurers are unwilling to insure the homes in the free market.

The federal flood insurance program is already a shocking $18 billion in the hole because of the massive damage of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Why should taxpayers who sensibly choose not to live in places that are apt to flood have to underwrite the insurance premiums and damages of homeowners who take that risk? And isn't that especially offensive when some individuals choose to rebuild in a flood-prone area after their original dwelling has been damaged by high water?

Government perhaps should not forbid construction in areas apt to be hit by floods, but Congress should not saddle all Americans with the insurance costs of those who build in those areas.

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