Now that the effluvium from former high-flying lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s stinkbomb is starting to disseminate through the chambers on Capitol Hill, it is going to be interesting to see how long it takes Congress to get around to passing legislation of importance to the nation, not to mention the life insurance business.
My guess is that between the Senate confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito to be elevated to the Supreme Court and the fallout from Abramoff’s guilty plea arrangement with federal authorities, it is going to be later rather than sooner for action on pressing items.
It is hard to imagine Congress being any more paralyzed than it has been, with precious little to show for its efforts. To say the least, this Congress’s record is perhaps the worst possible argument for one-party government ever.
Abramoff, who has emerged as the most expert scammer of American Indians since Peter Menuet shelled out $24 worth of shiny beads for Manhattan, is probably going to take more than a few congressmen down with him. Many on the Hill were the recipients of his money-wrapped blandishments.
It is pathetically comical to see politicians sanctimoniously donating their Abramoff contributions to charity, now that he has pleaded guilty to federal crimes. From the $6,000 that he donated to the Bush campaign to the $69,000 (!) that House Speaker Dennis Hastert suddenly realized was tainted–this should be a windfall year for charities of all stripes. Do these politicians seriously think that anyone believes they didn’t know this money was radioactive in the first place?
Meanwhile, there is a ton of legislation on hold and much of it contains provisions of high interest to the life insurance business. Let’s face it, the business could use a few legislative victories after the drubbing it’s taken in the last few years. The most recent and disheartening example, of course, was the exclusion of group life insurance from the newly extended Terrorism Risk Insurance Act at the insistence of the industry’s friends in the White House and Senate.