From the book “After,” by Steven Brill
(pages 502 to 503—Tuesday, June 18,2002) Schumer finally got Senate approval of terrorism insurance. After nearly a week of parliamentary maneuvering, and with former Trent Lott aide-turned-lobbyist David Crane a key figure working behind the scenes, a deal was put together that included some tort reform but not so much that the Democrats couldn’t swallow it. The result was a piece of highly complicated legislation. Put simply, the bill would have the government pay out 90 percent of all insurance claims related to a terror attack that cost less than 10 billion and 80 percent of the amount over 10 billion. However, in a concession to tort reformers, none of the government’s money could go to pay for punitive damages.
One aspect of the law that was odd was that in a key respect the Republicans had actually given the insurance companies more than most would have settled for. Many of the companies had offered to pay a premium to the government to get this kind of 80 percent or 90 percent backstop coverage. After all, it was the equivalent of the reinsurance policies they often buy—but had not been able to buy for terrorism coverage after September 11. Yet when Crane and others floated the idea, they found that the Republicans preferred providing the backstop for free, rather than putting the government into the insurance business, which they regarded as another step toward big government.
The other interesting sidelight to all the legislative wrangling was Schumer’s bravura performance. One lobbyist with close ties to the Republicans marveled at how Schumer not only had total command over the details of the dozens of iterations of the bill that were floating around in the final days, but that he was an energizing, bipartisan lobbyist for his cause. He’d come off the floor and be greeted by Republican lobbyists representing business groups, huddle with them, then give them marching orders, “Go talk to [Republican Senator Phil] Gramm about that,” he’d whisper. Or “Get [Republican leader Trent] Lott up to speed on that.”
“Schumer ran it like I’d run a coalition meeting,” the lobbyist recalled. “You know, it could have cut negatively. A lot of us don’t like to get up in the morning and think we’re coming to work to help New York. But he was really effective.”
For many sectors of the American business community, the passage of the bill was a great relief. Two weeks ago, Moody’s Investor Service had announced that it was reviewing and considering a downgrade of its credit ratings for some 5 billion worth of real estate loans tied to buildings such as Rockerfeller Center and the SunAmerica Center in Los Angeles…
Having read through this particular [excerpt from the book] some days previously, it stuck in my mind as the high degree of hypocrisy that was evident in Brill’s account. What was remarkable was his downplaying of blatant hypocrisy to the merely odd. An insurance “backstop” from the federal gvt is after all taxpayers’ dollars. The original desire of insurance companies to “pay a premium” to the feds for the use of what was after all a public/private reinsurance program being summarily rejected by the GOP as gvt shouldn’t be in the insurance business and we don’t want big gvt was a bit more than “odd.” Because gvt by reason of this terrorism insurance bill as to its particulars would indeed be in the insurance business, to hand out the $$$ meant that it would increase in size, and even further; the GOP who had often complained about the Democrats spending too freely of taxpayers’ money (as they would indeed complain about the current Obama administration) or for that matter the amount of debt that gvt at the federal level that has been accrued (especially since Obama became president) was suddenly no object. Just as turning these insurance companies into welfare recipients was no object. To put it bluntly, an underhanded way to literally go against fiscal prudence, limited gvt and an opposition to welfare. Let alone questions of accountability. Wouldn’t there be an argument in here somewhere, one that Brill did not address that with all this free federal money floating around that it could be subject to abuse, waste, fraud? And if insurance companies could get this kind of money, who else wouldn’t?
Quite frankly, I am thinking that there was a great deal that Brill didn’t appreciate what he reported on. I can. Because it reaffirms my opinion of the GOP in recent years, the lack of principled conservatism. And the willingness to be just a liberal with other peoples’ money as long as it went to favored interest groups. Only as we saw an economy enter into a state of collapse with a “perfect storm” of many factors, inclusive of our financial institutions going into a complete disarray post GOP anti-regulatory fervor, only now do the GOP want to oppose red ink, big gvt, etc. [if it helps the little people]. What is just as ironic? The little people who have formed the “TEA Party” movement seem to be in utter denial about these events of just 8 years ago.
A couple of opinions in the Spokesman-Review this morning (27 June 2010); Trudy Rubin while flailing the Obama administration and showing considerable sympathy for fired General MacChrystal neglects a few facts; you don’t utter such condemnations and “foolish talk” to a publication such as Rolling Stone. Did MacChrystal have a real beef with the civilian leadership? Let’s also put it bluntly, he wouldn’t have been the first such general. Couldn’t the general have pursued his grievances more directly than bringing this matter up in a publication such as Rolling Stone? Absolutely. Did Rubin choose to address that? No, she did not. No more than she would address whether MacChrystal had indeed attempted to communicate more directly his frustrations with the civilian leadership and got nowhere. What I found hilarious was her mentioning Ryan Crocker’s opinion about all the “infighting” in the Obama administration. With reference to “After,” Crocker becomes the pot calling the kettle black. Right along with other books written in the Bush era, and what was after all public knowledge, Crocker could hardly make the case that there was administration unity in either the war effort or in any other domestic or foreign policy. Therefore, MacChrystal’s offense in accordance with the UCMJ was well within Obama’s prerogative to act upon. Illustrious careers can end in just this way. History would be a useful guide right about now.
And briefly concerning the David Broder column also about McChrystal’s firing and those choosing to jump ship from the Obama administration. Wonder why Broder didn’t see it as any kind of issue when GW was in office? MacChrystal and the director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag as some kind of referendum on the Obama presidency? Wonder what Broder would have said if he had lived and reported in the time of Abraham Lincoln who had fired any number of generals before he found someone who could effectively end the Civil War? Or addressed the various administrations long before he would become a reporter, journalist and opinion writer the various administrations where those who staffed them did voluntarily leave for greener pastures? Why is this now a big deal? Actually, big deal! Broder’s column says a great deal about Broder’s dislike for our Dem president. And yet, we only had many of the same situations in the prior administration! Not a peep about it from Broder? Prior generals resigning in order to complain about Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld was not a referendum on the GW administration? How about that.