This is an advisory to those people who upbraid me every time I write a column involving politics and tell me that politics has no place in a magazine covering the insurance business. This column is going to be all about politics, so be warned that if that doesn’t suit you, pass this one by.
For those of you who are still with me, you know that I’ve made no secret of my political persuasion over the years. So let me just get this off my chest here at the get-go and then move on. Fantastic! Unbelievable! A dream come true!
It’s almost like having a Meg Ryan moment in “When Harry met Sally,” when all you want to do is shout Yes! Yes! Yes! But in this case it’s for real.
It just makes me feel like belting out the George and Ira Gershwin classic, “‘S Wonderful.”
OK, now that you know how I really feel, let’s get to the business of insurance and how this election may affect it.
The truth is, better than you think.
If you look back over the last 6 years of the Bush administration and the time that both the House and Senate have been controlled by the GOP, you have to admit the industry hasn’t done all that well by the Republicans.
Despite their reputations as wild-eyed liberals and business-hacking brutes, the likely chairmen of some key committees are, in fact, pretty reasonable when it comes to issues of concern to the business.
Yes, rolling back some of the Bush tax cuts or letting them sunset as planned will probably be on the agenda of Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who is set to become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He has in fact said that everything tax-wise is on the table. But Rangel, like a lot of his Democratic confreres, is concerned with giving the middle class some tax relief. I imagine he is also cognizant of the fact that many middle class families are poorly prepared for long term care and other retirement issues.
Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who is invariably referred to as “sharp-tongued” (and in some quarters undoubtedly is called “forked-tongued,” since he is openly gay), has been quite reasonable in wanting to alleviate some of the burdens that Sarbanes-Oxley has put on small businesses. (Now that both Sen. Paul Sarbanes and Rep. Mike Oxley are leaving Congress, changes in the law that is their claim to fame can be considered.)
Yes, there is Rep. Pete Stark of California, who’s been a long-time scourge of the health care/insurance business. But my guess is that a lot of Stark’s energy will go into various Medicare fixes. And if his and some of his fellow representatives’ attention is directed toward finding a solution for the millions and millions of uninsured in this country, well, I find it hard to see how one could argue with that.
And then there’s Nancy Pelosi, who by all accounts is likely to be the next House Speaker and the first woman to hold that post since this country was born. She has been the target of all those who would attack anyone who still dares to call themselves a liberal–the poster child for that way-out San Francisco lifestyle and attitude (you know what that means) that, if given free rein, will bring nothing but ruination on the nation.
I think, however, that Nancy will want to be Speaker for more than 2 years and will confound her critics. Today’s Democrats are too savvy to automatically alienate the business community.
Who knows? This could be the start of a beautiful relationship between the Dems and the industry. But in the meantime, all I can say about the election is “‘S Marvellous.”