- Nov 22, 2003
- Reaction score
That legislators involved in lawsuits not be able to legislate in areas of the other parties' business. Trent Lott, again:
Senator Lott Floods the Zone
A house is lost and now a senator wants revenge.
BY KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Friday, February 23, 2007 12:01 a.m.
One big question when Democrats took over Congress was which industry would be first to feel the new majority's populist rage. Oil? Pharma? Banks? Corporate America just got its answer, direct from the angriest man to have been empowered in the past election: Republican Sen. Trent Lott.
The Mississippian was "infuriated" by the insurance industry's refusal to shell out for certain Katrina claims, most notably his own. So Mr. Lott is spearheading a ferocious campaign of political revenge that would make even Henry Waxman envious--replete with investigations, voracious trial lawyers, ambitious state attorneys general and threats of punitive federal legislation. And like most personal grievances that get morphed into policy battles, it's ending badly for consumers.
For his part, Mr. Lott has been busy cranking up the pressure in Washington. Not that he didn't give fair warning. In July of last year, he placed a call to Chuck Chamness, the CEO of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, to let the industry know what was coming. Mr. Chamness later sent a letter to Mr. Lott, summing up the call. The key passage: "Your comment that you will dedicate your next term of office to 'bringing down State Farm and the industry' through all means available to you, including legislation designed to harm the property/casualty insurance industry, was very unsettling, to say the least."
Mr. Lott has proven as good as his word. Since Katrina, he's slipped legislation into a Homeland Security bill requiring the inspector general of that agency to investigate insurers. He's put forward a bill requiring insurers to "state clearly" on their policies' "front page" what they don't cover. He's dropped another bill that would compel insurers to release more information about vehicles damaged by Katrina. Word is he's even been looking into the industry's tax rates.
But his big bomb came last week, when he introduced legislation that would end the insurance industry's exemption from certain federal antitrust regulations.