According to the Financial Times, the insurance industry estimates the total bill for insurers from Hurricane Sandy will be between $20 billion and $25 billion. President Barack Obama’s emergency request for Hurricane Sandy totals $60.4 billion. One must naturally wonder how the damages not covered by insurance could be roughly triple the insured estimate?

More specifically, how are the total damages sustained by federal facilities and assets—$3 billion—roughly 15 percent of the total private-sector insured damages? Let’s go one step further: How is it that the total amount of funds requested by President Obama for the Federal Emergency Management Agency ($5.4 billion), the National Flood Insurance Program ($9.7 billion), and state and local transportation repairs ($6.2 billion) match the total estimated costs for the entire insurance industry?

When the other roughly $40 billion requested by President Obama is added to the mix, the sheer fuzziness of the “emergency” spending request becomes, well, even fuzzier.

As we’ve written before, the debate in Congress should focus on a much smaller amount of funding than was requested by President Obama, and any funding should be tied to reforming FEMA and the NFIP.