Gene Taylor is not in this to make friends
Gene Taylor has had an eventful week.
Last weekend, the Democrat who has represented the 4th District for two decades was quoted in the Sun Herald in Biloxi railing against the insurance industry’s recruitment of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose his multi-peril insurance legislation, an issue he has been pushing since shortly after Hurricane Katrina. His efforts to push the bill, which would allow the federal government to offer wind and water coverage to homeowners in hurricane-rich areas like his district, through Congress have stalled. A big reason for that is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry’s adamant stance against it, and the subsequent unleashing of their armies of lobbyists to kill it.
“It will, unfortunately, probably take a major East Coast hurricane, with some other people suffering as we suffered, for us to pass insurance reform,” Taylor told the Sun Herald in its Sept. 11 edition.
A favored tactic of the business lobby when it runs into opposition is to label its opponents “anti-business.” Most politicians, from both parties, are terrified of that label. Some Republicans would rather kiss Nancy Pelosi than be slapped with it.
That label won’t stick to Taylor, though.
Because five days after his insurance rant, he became the first Democrat to join the GOP’s effort to repeal the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called healthcare reform. It was a major victory for Democrats this summer when it passed, and its repeal has become the centerpiece of many a campaign this fall. Business groups and trade associations hate it, and want it gone yesterday. So does Taylor.
“I didn’t vote for it, people don’t want it, and the taxpayers cannot afford it,” Taylor said in a statement issued on his website.
In less than a week Taylor has called out one of the biggest, most powerful and richest segments of the business lobby over one of his pet projects, and likely enraged his party leadership over one of theirs.
Say this for him: He believes what he believes. That’s pretty rare in a politician these days.