Mass. Rep. Barney Frank Covers a Flood of Issues on Final Day at National Legislative Conference

April 23, 2004

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, told a gathering of independent insurance agents on the final day of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America’s (IIABA) National Legislative Conference, that independent agents are one of the three biggest grassroots groups in the country.

Frank, who began his legislative work back in 1972, told the crowd that along with realtors and credit unions, independent agents have a major grassroots representation across the country.

“Every congressman has agents in their districts,” Frank commented. “Independent agents seek people out and are pleasantly aggressive.”

The congressman covered an array of topics, including flood insurance, federal and state division, who Democractic nominee John Kerry (D-Mass.) might pick for a running mate in his bid for the White House this fall, and where public services are most needed.

On flood insurance, Frank said the industry would hopefully see a much improved system soon. On the federal versus states issue, Frank noted that greater coordination would be in everyone’s best interest. Showing some of his dry sense of humor, Frank also poked a little fun at his home state of Massachusetts, noting that “most people in this room would not list Massachusetts auto regulation as one of their 416 favorite things.”

Frank was asked by one attendee who Kerry might choose as his second in command as Democrats prepare to gather this summer for their national convention.

Noting there were several criteria, Frank said that finding someone capable of being president if necessary was key, along with someone who is strong on national security, and someone who could bring strength to the ticket in both the southern states and the midwestern rust belt.

“When looking at polling data, the majority of people vote for president, not the vice president,” Frank said. “Other than maybe when Lyndon Johnson carried Texas for President Kennedy.” Frank mentioned that John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Wesley Clark, and Florida senators Bob Graham and Bill Nelson could be among the top choices.

Frank also touched on the jump in mergers that is taking place across the country among businesses, noting “mergers are getting a bad notion, we’ve seen too many layoffs.” He also commented that “information technology has transformed a lot of what we do. You can do more now with fewer people at work.”

Frank said he would like to see more resources directed to cities and states in the form of more police officers, firefighters, teachers and public health professionals. “There needs to be less tax cutting and more aid to cities and states,” he concluded.

Nearly 900 independent agents and brokers gathered for the event the last three days, which began on Wednesday. Congressman Richard Baker (R-La.), Senator George Allen (R-Va.), and Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign manager Ken Mehlman were among the other speakers during the week.

Editor’s note: For a wrapup of the 28th annual National Legislative Conference and a report on the Florida delegation’s visit with Sen. Bob Graham, see the May 17 issue of Insurance Journal Southeast.

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