Four More Years for Bush; Kerry Concedes in Phone Call to President

November 3, 2004

This time around, it won’t be a flood of lawyers and hanging chads like in 2000.

In a call to President Bush Wednesday morning shortly after 11 a.m. (EST), Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) conceded the 2004 Presidential election, which provides Bush with something his father, George H.W. Bush, could not secure, a second term.

With votes still outstanding and some states still too close to call, Bush had secured 274 electoral votes to capture a second term. Bush finished with 51 percent of the popular vote to Kerry’s 48 percent and 252 electoral votes.

With the victory, Bush has four more years to pursue the war on terror and a conservative, tax-cutting agenda — and likely an opportunity to name one or several justices to an aging Supreme Court.

So how will a Bush second term impact the insurance industry?

Tort reform was a major topic of the President during the campaign and industry leaders hope to see some push in legislation to limit high medical malpractice rates.

According to Scott Duncan, director of Public Affairs for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), “We were pleased with the increase in the seats gained by the Republicans in the Senate. It seems to me that the election showed that a majority of the American people are for free markets, less litigation, and less burdensome regulation. One thing that is very clear is that President Bush comes back to Washington with a mandate for reforming lawsuit abuse,” Duncan said.

Duncan also felt it was important that the President put tort reform out there on the radar screens during the election. “Medical liability reform is an issue that a great majority of Americans understand. Anybody who pays for their health insurance, has insurance through their employer or owns a small business, understands it is remarkably expensive. Liability reform can play a key role in decreasing some of those costs.”

Asked if the Democrats will look to block reform legislation under a second Bush term, Duncan noted, “They’ve obviously been opponents in the Senate on some of these issues. The Republicans now have three or four more seats in the Senate to play with.”

Duncan said one fear the insurance industry had had Sen. Kerry and Sen. John Edwards been elected was that, “With the costs of liability, asbestos, and all this other stuff, it makes the industry very nervous when a trial lawyer is going to be the Vice President of the United States.”

Duncan said among the top priorities for PCI in the coming weeks and 2005 will be terrorism insurance on the federal level. “I think President Bush showed a great deal of leadership in 2002 in getting that bill done. Now that the election is over, he can get focused on establishing his policy priorities and hopefully that is one of them,” Duncan commented.

Editor’s note: Insurance Journal will also be looking at the handful of insurance commissioner races across the country in the days to come.

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