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Terrorism backstop gets welcome support


WHILE WE'RE CERTAIN that we will have our differences, some no doubt serious, with the new Democratic congressional leadership, we believe they've gotten off to a very good start on one key issue--the future of a federal terrorism insurance backstop.

As we report on page 3, key members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and the House Financial Services committees have already said that dealing with the backstop will be a priority. That's certainly welcome news, for the current program created by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension Act of 2005 is scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2007.

While that's more than a year away, experience underscores that where terrorism insurance is concerned, the sooner lawmakers get working on it, the better. After all, a year ago, legislative deadlock and an unresponsive administration appeared likely to doom the program altogether, and a final stripped-down bill didn't reach the president's desk until days before the original program was set to expire.

As welcome as the new leadership's commitment to moving early on the issue is, we're even more impressed by its willingness to look for a long-term solution to terrorism insurance rather than merely extend the program every couple of years. Terrorism isn't a short-term peril, and it demands better than a short-term solution.

Providing a long-term solution won't be easy, particularly given the administration's belief that the private insurance marketplace can somehow adequately cover what may well be an inherently uninsurable risk. But we've got to start someplace, and the new congressional leadership's commitment to providing a long-term solution is a welcome first step indeed.