A typically charismatic speech by President Bill Clinton was the highlight of an already stellar 24th Annual National Legislative Conference for the Independent Insurance Agents of America (IIAA). The President appeared at the Grand Hyatt Washington on May 2 to present a special resolution to Hope, Ark.-businessman George Frazier for his many years of service, caring and leadership in the industry.
Clinton addressed the audience of 800 independent agents: “I want to thank you for what you do every day…for your work in modernizing insurance and building e-commerce. I want to ask you to continue to preserve the privacy of your clients in the face of e-commerce, to maximize the possibilities of technology without giving up their rights to privacy.”
Clinton congratulated agents for diversifying the industry and appointing the first woman on the board of the IIAA. He also recognized IIAA’s involvement with minorities and thanked them for the quality of representation, “straight talk and honest effort to work out differences” in Washington.
“We worked together to get the economy moving again…Four years ago, I appreciated your support for the Kassebaum-Kennedy bill,” Clinton said, referring to the landmark healthcare reform bill that the IIAA endorsed in March 1996. The Kassebaum-Kennedy healthcare reform bill was later approved by Congress and signed into law.
“The large question is ‘what are we going to do in these good times?'” Clinton stated. “How do we handle prosperity?”
The answer, he said, is to “keep the economy going…we must continue to pay down this debt,” and “keep expanding…we need more markets all the time.” He stressed the importance of China getting into the World Trade Organization, saying “it’s in our national security interest and it’s good for our economy-and it’s more people to buy insurance.”
Clinton said he supports a $3,000 annual tax credit to help Americans pay for long-term care for a family member. Noting that 60 percent of senior citizens lack prescription drug insurance coverage, he endorsed a voluntary prescription drug program as part of Medicare. Together with improvements in healthcare that will result in Americans living longer, these measures “will totally change the life and health insurance industry,” Clinton predicted.
Frazier, who introduced the President to the packed ballroom, was childhood friends with Clinton back in Arkansas and described him as “always a golden boy whose future was filled with potential.”
Clinton, then-Attorney General of Arkansas, swore Frazier in as Big “I” President in 1977. “My political career began with George Frazier’s presidency and ended with my own,” joked Clinton.
After the conclusion of his speech, Clinton came down to shake hands and chat briefly with the attendees.
Other speakers during the Conference included Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)
President Clinton’s appearance will be the third time that a sitting President of the United States has addressed IIAA members at the annual legislative meeting. President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and President George Bush in 1989 spoke to IIAA agents during the Conference.
Founded in 1896, IIAA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents and agency employees nationwide.
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