The disastrous economic events of the last few months have emptied our collective pocketbooks and raised our anxiety levels, especially as we have watched strongly performing insurance stocks suffer precipitous declines through no fault of their own.
But there is still more potential for coal for Christmas or early in the ensuing year coming from Washington for life insurance companies and agents.
The one event that everyone in the industry would view negatively is a bad ethics report on Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Also on the radar screen is potential action by the Securities and Exchange Commission–possibly as early as the next few weeks–to rule that equity indexed annuities are securities, and therefore subject to federal regulatory oversight.
Another issue that could emerge from Congress next year, where liberals will have more sway than in recent memory, is a call from consumer advocates for a federal Consumer Product Safety Commission-type panel with a mandate to impose strong consumer protections on financial products, including insurance.
As for Rangel, he is under investigation by a House ethics panel for personal issues, mainly involving alleged failure to pay taxes on real estate investments and similar ethics lapses.
A first-glance perception is that a congressman from a liberal district in a liberal state would look askance at industry interests, especially on taxes.
That perception would be enhanced through his television and personal appearances, where Rangel gives the impression of an affable, grandfatherly type who is certain to pursue a liberal, partisan agenda as a committee chairman.
Perception, however, is not fact, at least in this case.
In fact, he is a tough-as-nails negotiator, knowledgeable not only of industry interests, but also a strong advocate for House interests on tax and similar issues.
Specifically, in talks with the Senate, Rangel is well-respected among his colleagues as a guardian of House prerogatives on those issues.