WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11, 2014 — House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman, yesterday addressed the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) membership at the annual legislative conference breakfast. The event occurs just prior to the association’s annual Big “I” Day on Capitol Hill.
Bipartisanship was a hot topic during the annual Big “I” Legislative Conference breakfast this morning.
During the event, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman, addressed the association’s membership about how small businesses like independent insurance agencies can use their political power to help make America’s future their own.
“Don’t blame somebody else for the problem,” said Rep. McCarthy, who discussed starting his own business in a small town in California when he was just 19 years old. “We should not leave our problems for another generation—we need to face them head on.”
Governing for the next generation must remain a high priority for not only legislators, but American citizens as well. “What you do and what I do should be about building a future that creates stability, that anticipates and mitigates against risk and that manages unpredictability,” Rep. Israel said.
According to Rep. McCarthy, making America’s next generation “ours” will involve reforming the tax code and a national energy policy, as well as pursuing reform for education, immigration and government—particularly when it comes to fighting rising regulation. “We have to be able to compete,” he said. “If you eliminate risk, you have no growth.”
Rep. Israel discussed five future trends that will affect America in the next two decades: booming growth in the global middle class population; rapid expansion of the elderly demographic; increasing movement back into cities; “breathtaking” acceleration of technology; and an alarming increase in demand for resources.
“It usually takes a long time to effectuate dramatic change, but we are at one of those pivot points where the decisions we make now will fundamentally re-shape the world for very good and for very bad over the next decade and a half,” Rep. Israel said. “We actually know what the risks are going to be and we have a sense of where the uncertainties lie.”
How can independent agents join forces with legislators to ensure positive change? In the opinion of Reps. McCarthy and Israel, the solution is bipartisan politics. “Washington is not just the capitol of United States of America—it’s the capitol of blame,” Rep. Israel said. “That blame may make us feel good in terms of our partisan gratifications, but that blame is not going to put one person to work—and it’s not going to save a single small business.”
“I could speak to the same people that agree with me on the same issues, or I could expand the network and talk to them about an issue that they might not even know about that could affect them,” added Rep. McCarthy, who discussed the importance of passing flood insurance legislation and working toward passage of NARAB II and TRIA—all examples of politicians working across the aisle to make important progress for independent agents.
Rep. Israel agreed, citing TRIA and the new flood law as two ways “Democrats and Republicans have come together to do what you do: mitigate risk, provide peace of mind and create financial stability so that businesses and people can plan their futures,” he said. “We have to get beyond blame to solutions.”
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of approximately a quarter of a million agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.