WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4 - Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) outlined tax reforms that could boost economic security and praised American troops fighting to preserve our national security during a speech today to more than 800 independent insurance agents and brokers visiting Washington from throughout the country.
Sununu was a keynote speaker at the 27th Annual Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America’s (IIABA) National Legislative Conference at the Capital Hilton in downtown Washington, D.C. The 300,000-member national association’s legislative meeting is the insurance industry’s largest and most-effective gathering of its kind. It started Wednesday and ends today.
“You have come to Washington at what can only be described as an extraordinary time,” Sununu told IIABA agents and brokers who have been going to Capitol Hill this week to meet with their elected representatives in Congress.
Sununu noted that the two principal challenges facing the country go hand-in-hand: economic security and national security. “All of these uncertainties (overseas) affect our own economy here at home.”
Sununu stressed, “The recession we are in today has been caused by a slowdown in business investment.” He specifically advocated three elements of President Bush’s economic growth package that he believes will boost small businesses and create jobs.
“This group knows, probably too painfully, that many of our small businesses are taxed at that top personal rate. We are taxing IBM at 35 percent and we are taxing a Chapter ‘S’ corporation at nearly 40 percent. It’s not fair. It discourages the very entrepreneurship in investment that we should be encouraging in this country.
“Accelerate the rate reductions because it is good for business investment and good for small businesses; get rid of the death tax once and for all for the same reason; and get rid of the double taxation of dividends. We will have a better, fairer tax code for sure, but we will also do something about the lagging business investment that put us into this condition in the first place.”
Economic security is vital to national security, Sununu said. “If we don’t have a strong, growing, prosperous economy, we won’t have the resources we need here at home to invest in the tools, technology and training that our young men and women need to get the job done in protecting our national security and winning the war in Iraq.”
Sununu added, “If there is one single value you have to point out from having these embedded journalists in the army, it has brought home the professionalism, skill and patriotism being exhibited by these men and women. It does indeed make you proud.”
The war in Iraq is essential to national security, Sununu said. Saddam Hussein must be disarmed and the threat of chemical and biological weapons eliminated. “If you look down the road and look at your children and grandchildren, you will see the answer to the question of: ‘Why is this so important?’” he said. “If we are not willing to do it today, we won’t be able to do it tomorrow, because the complexities and threat will be just that much greater.”
During a question-and-answer session, Sununu was asked for his views on the barriers facing tort reform in the Senate, specifically medical liability reform.
“The biggest issue, I believe, is the one dealing with a cap on non-economic damages,” Sununu said. “There have been a lot of entrees for compromise. But I think what has happened is that as those discussions took place, trial lawyers realized that common sense might prevail in coming to some middle-of-the-road agreement, and so the pressure was turned up enormously on those Democratic senators that were involved in those discussions.
“We are not quite back to where we started, but the discussions have really calmed down.”
Sununu is a member of the Senate Banking Committee; Commerce Committee; Governmental Affairs Committee; Joint Economic Committee; and Foreign Relations Committee.
Political leaders annually address IIABA members—small business owners from all cities and towns across America—during the National Legislative Conference breakfast sessions. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) addressed the gathering yesterday.
Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 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 and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.