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GT Alert

White House Economic Conference Pushes Legal, Tax and Entitlement Reform

Political Capital and Increased Majorities May End Logjam on Stalled Issues

December 2004
By Gregory J. McDonald, Greenberg Traurig, Washington, D.C. Office

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At a two day economic conference, the White House declared the economy is strong, the job market is growing and businesses are flourishing. Held in Washington, the summit featured prominent business leaders, academics and practitioners. Despite the rosy assessments, Bush urged immediate legislative action on a variety of domestic issues. Namely, the President called for reform of the nation’s entitlement, tort, regulatory and tax systems as well as an extension of sunsetting tax measures.

"Deemed a 'priority issue' by Bush, the conference provided a glimpse of legal issues to be debated in the 109th Congress."

Deemed a “priority issue” by Bush, the conference provided a glimpse of legal issues to be debated in the 109th Congress. The President and cabinet officials announced an aggressive campaign to create a trust fund to compensate asbestos victims, limit the use of class action lawsuits and cap medical malpractice awards. In the 108th Congress, proposals aimed at the controversial topics failed to clear both chambers.

Reform of the nation’s entitlement programs also received considerable attention. Panelists universally agreed the current Medicare and Social Security systems are unsustainable and predicted fund exhaustions in the near future. To return the programs to solvency, the Administration stressed the need to partially privatize retirement and medical accounts.

Another panel stressed the need to reform the nation’s tax and regulatory systems. Experts documented the billions spent and hours wasted on tax preparation, calling the system “ridiculously complicated.” Federal regulations were also deemed arcane and wasteful, with panelists calling for a sunsetting of certain regimes.

The economic summit, the Administration’s first since the 2002 conference in Waco, offered few specifics. However, the lack of concrete proposals is unlikely to affect the Administration’s chances for legislative success. Flush with political capital from a convincing victory coupled with Republican gains in Congress, the President may be able to break legal and entitlement reform from its gridlock.

Greenberg Traurig’s Governmental Affairs practice has a keen eye on developments in Washington. We are identifying issues and opportunities for our clients in the unfolding tax, legal and entitlement debates and ensuring our clients gain advantage.


© 2004 Greenberg Traurig

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This GT ALERT is issued for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as general legal advice. Greenberg Traurig attorneys provide practical, result-oriented strategies and solutions tailored to meet our clients’ individual legal needs.