Gingrich Says Effect Of Jeffords Switch Won’t Be ‘Dramatic’

San Antonio

While the recent shift of power to the Democrats in the U.S. Senate has some predicting that sweeping changes are coming, Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said the effect on legislation in general, and on the insurance and financial services industry in particular, will not be “dramatic.”

Gingrich, the keynote speaker at the IASAs 73rd Annual Educational Conference and Business Show, called the recent announcement by Maine Senator James Jeffordswho had been elected as a Republicanthat he is now an Independent “a symptom” that indicates the Republican party needs to change.

He added, however, that “the Republicans will get 80% of what they would have gotten anyway.”

While a single vote advantage means “you rule” in the House of Representatives, said Gingrich, in the Senate “you have to have 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.” Thus, the single vote shift to the Democratic side might not be as much of an advantage as some observers think, he explained.

Gingrich addressed a wide range of topics at the conference.

He began with commentary on the effects and potential of the information revolution. Pointing out that most of us already trust the technology involved in ATMs, Gingrich stressed the fact that such devices are “astoundingly accurate,” while systems in other critical areas, such as medicine, may not be.

Applying the kind of accurate technology involved in ATMs to hospital settings “would save 40,000 to 80,000 lives per year” by eliminating medical errors, he noted. “Twenty-five percent of senior citizen emergency room visits in Rhode Island are caused by wrong prescriptions,” he observed.

“Doctors ought to carry laptops or handheld [computers],” he continued. Connected via such devices, physicians could write prescriptions, find out what treatments insurance companies would pay for, and review a patients medical records from a remote location.

Gingrich predicted an explosion in bandwidth (the amount of information that can flow through an electronic “pipeline”), as well as development of computer systems that are “more pervasive, more 24-by-7 and more available. People will want faster and more accurate transactions.”

A second new wave that will have broad effects is the development of “nanoscale” science and technologythat is, technology that utilizes particles as small as a billionth of a meter, Gingrich asserted. “When you can work at the level of one atom, you can create new things.”

Gingrich spoke about the development of “carbon nanotubes,” devices that can be one atom thick, yet 10 times stronger than steel, one-sixth the weight of steel, and able to conduct electricity. Such devices used in computers would be far smaller than todays microchips, paving the way for a new generation of smaller yet more powerful electronic devices, he said.

In the area of financial services, Gingrich said, “the most important proposal George W. Bush has made is for personal Social Security accounts.” Such an option, he observed, “would do more to change the [savings] habits of the working poor than anything else.”

Gingrich pointed out that citizens would receive “three to six times the rate of return” from private Social Security accounts than they get from current government accounts.

He added that upcoming federal income tax cuts will be good for working Americans, but opined that the tax plans passed by Congress are too complex and “not strong enough” to make a significant difference in the economy.

“The rebate is the weakest part of the tax plan,” he said, adding that the biggest impact would come from changes in marginal tax rates.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, June 22, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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