White House Economic Conference Pushes Legal, Tax and Entitlement Reform
Political Capital and Increased Majorities May End Logjam on Stalled
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
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