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Social Security. With strengthened Republican majorities in the House and Senate, President George W. Bush seems well-positioned to tread on the “third rail” of American politics: Social Security reform. Bush signaled the issue as a priority at his first post-election press conference, and Patton Boggs managing partner Stuart Pape says any move toward privatization will have immense ramifications for the mutual fund industry. “I’m quite confident there are plenty of people in firms like mine scrambling to line up clients on that issue,” Pape says. Tax Reform. Not satisfied simply with tax cuts, Bush has said he’ll push “simplification” of the Internal Revenue Code. That might sound like bad news for tax attorneys who thrive on the code’s complexities, but as Pape dryly notes, “There’s a lot of simplification one could do with the tax code and still not end up with a simple tax code.” In fact, says Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker D.C. managing partner Barbara Berish Brown, reform might be good for business. “[Any] change engenders need for lawyers because you’ve got to conform your conduct and views to the new rules,” she says. EPA Enforcement. The president’s rejection of the Kyoto Protocol horrified environmentalists, but perhaps more significantly, the number of civil suits brought by the Environmental Protection Agency against polluters dropped by two-thirds during Bush’s first term. That left many D.C. environmental litigators to earn their bread fighting state and citizen lawsuits. With public concern over the subject of global warming mounting, what lies ahead? “That’s a real wild card,” says Latham & Watkins D.C. managing partner Eric Bernthal. “But I’m not prepared to accept the idea that they’re just going to turn away from the environment.” Telecom Deregulation. As a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and co-chairman of Lawyers for Bush-Cheney, Wiley Rein & Fielding managing partner Richard Wiley likely has as good a nose as anyone in Washington for what changes lie ahead for telecom companies. His report: “Steady as we go. I don’t think [policy] is likely to change very much.” Wiley predicts that FCC Chairman Michael Powell will continue to pursue policies encouraging across-the-board competition in local phone markets. — Jason McLure

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