Talk Of Economic Stimulus, Especially Capital Gains Cuts, Now More Muted
My office in Washington D.C. overlooks the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Pentagon. Over the last 15 years, I have spent many an hour talking on the telephone, looking out the window and watching airplanes fly over these symbols of our countrys history and power on their way in and out of Reagan National Airport.
It is a beautiful vista, but one I have largely taken for granted. I no longer do so. Since the terrible events of September 11, when I saw flames and dense black smoke rising from the Pentagon, the view has become dramatically altered.
Most obviously, airplanes have not been flying in and out of National Airport. The only aircraft to be seen from my window is an occasional F15 flying in a tight circle over the White House and the Capitol Building.
Quieter, but equally visible, are the large number of security vehicles and personnel guarding the perimeter of the White House. And, in silent reminder of that day, the Pentagon still stands in the distance, smoke no longer rising, but with a huge gash in its side.
The view from my office has changed in more subtle ways, also, as the capitals agenda has shifted. Some of these shifts are pertinent to writers of annuity products.
Before September 11, the Congress and the President were almost exclusively focused on domestic issues. Dominating the discussion: A Medicare prescription drug benefit, education reform, Social Security restructuring, the vanishing surplus, and whether the Social Security surplus would be violated.
This discussion was highly partisan, the Washington blame game being fully underway. Both parties scrambled to assume optimal positions for the 2002 Congressional elections–the Democrats blaming the President and his party for spending the surplus on tax cuts, and the Republicans explaining the budget and Social Security would be fine, if only Democrats would follow their lead.
Since September 11, however, Congress and President Bush have focused on combatting the evil that confronted us on that day. They correctly understood that, at this time, their first priority is defending our country from further attacks and taking steps to bring justice to those responsible for the September 11 attacks.