Most of the national media coverage surrounding the upcoming elections has been focused on U.S. Senate races and the possibility of a power shift in that chamber from Democrat to Republican. And while balance of power in the Senate is a significant issue – not least because should the GOP take over the chamber, the leadership and composition of the Senate Finance Committee (where the bulk of any tax reform debate will take place in 2015) will change dramatically – it’s not the only potential outcome that the Alliance’s advocacy team is tracking. Here is an overview of the key ways the November 4 elections could impact the fraternals:
- U.S. Senate – As noted above, GOP control of the Senate would impact the roster of the Senate Finance Committee and the tone of the tax reform debate likely to take place next year. Moreover, a more conservative Senate may also be less receptive to efforts to expand federal regulation of the insurance industry. It’s important to note, however, that even if Republicans win all of the six key races “in play,” the party’s control of the Senate will be by the narrowest of margins. Prospects for a break in the partisan stalemate in that chamber are still slim.
- U.S. House of Representatives – No power shifts are predicted in the House, but term limits for committee chairs will have a significant effect on the tax reform debate. Current Ways & Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-Mich.) is term-limited out at the end of the year and it appears that the new Chair will be Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The Alliance and several individual member societies have worked hard to build strong relationships with each of these lawmakers, and both are well aware of the value and viability of fraternals in their communities and across the U.S. Nonetheless, Rep. Ryan has said that if he becomes Ways & Means Chair, “everything is on the table” for the debate over an overhaul of the U.S. Tax Code. We can’t expect to get a free pass and we’ll have to continue our advocacy efforts with the members of this Committee and the entire U.S. House of Representatives – especially the incoming crop of freshman legislators – to make sure we’re at the tax reform table, but not on the menu.
- Gubernatorial Elections – These elections could have the most profound impact on fraternals because in most states governors appoint insurance commissioners. There are 32 governor’s seats up for grabs next week, with as many as a dozen incumbent governors being challenged in races that are too close to call or where polling shows the incumbent far behind in the polls. These include Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Michigan. The Alliance will be keeping close tabs on the outcome of these races – and the impact they may have on appointed commissioners – and will schedule meetings with any newly appointed regulators early in 2015. As always, member societies doing business in those states will be invited to participate in such meetings.
- Fraternalists’ May Decide the Winners – Take a look at this column by Gerald Seib from Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. Seib is one of my favorite political analysts and his piece on who is likely to cast votes in the November 4 election is thought-provoking. Seib is predicting that races in many states will be decided by voters who fit a decidedly fraternal demographic. Let’s see if his crystal ball is accurate.
Want to get a preview of the outcome of the elections and the impact they could have on your society and its members? The Alliance is conducting a free Election Preview Teleconference featuring political analysts from McBee Strategic Consulting, our federal advocacy firm, on Friday, October 31, from 11:00 – 11:30 a.m. CDT. Click here for more information about the teleconference and plan to join us later this week.