Try, And Try Again
Even if you don’t agree with them, you’ve got to admire the sheer doggedness of those companies and organizations that are proponents of an optional federal charter for insurance regulation.
We’re talking about groups like the American Council of Life Insurers and the Financial Services Roundtable, both of which number among their members the largest life insurance companies.
The optional federal charter has not made much headway in the House, where the House Financial Services Committee has been preoccupied with the State Modernization and Regulatory Transparency Act that is the brainchild of Committee Chairman Mike Oxley, R-Ohio, and Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., a key subcommittee chairman.
SMART for at least a year has been the only game in town when it comes to the federal government addressing the problems with state insurance regulation. Frankly, no one else has shown much interest.
(And speaking of SMART, doesn’t it strike you that the naming of legislation to get a cute or memorable acronym has become almost an art form in our nation’s capital? But that is the subject for another column.)
Nonetheless, what the OFC proponents know through experience gained from eons of lobbying is that anything major generally takes years, if not decades, to come to fruition in Washington. So they are not giving up.
But instead of continuing to pour energies into trying to change Oxley’s mind, the OFC crowd is taking a different tack and addressing its desires to the Senate. Whether this works or not remains to be seen.
Truth is, the Senate has shown much less interest in tackling insurance regulation than the House has. Undaunted, however, these OFC proponents have configured themselves into yet another organization, this one called the Optional Federal Charter Coalition (not a particularly successful acronym), and were working on sending a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.