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Table: How Far Will Washington Go?


ACCOUNTING

Senate Democrats want to split auditing and consulting and to create a tough board to oversee auditors. Andersen is going along, but the rest of the Big Five are fighting back. Bush has ordered the SEC to impose consulting limits, but not a clear split. He favors a weaker oversight board.

LIKELY OUTCOME The SEC will push audit committees to rule on consulting deals. Congress will set up a board closer to Bush's plan.

PENSIONS

A Democratic initiative to impose caps on company stock in 401(k)s is dead. Bush has proposed mild limits on how long companies can require employees to hold company stock in 401(k) plans. Business wants neither.

LIKELY OUTCOME A bill is expected, but it won't go beyond Bush's plan.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

Activists want rules allowing them to propose board members. But there's little Washington can do on these state-run issues.

LIKELY OUTCOME The SEC already requires disclosure of accounting procedures that affect earnings. And it's drafting rules for faster reporting.

EXECUTIVE PAY

Senate leaders want companies that deduct stock options' costs on their taxes to take a charge against earnings. Tech and other businesses are gearing up to fight.

LIKELY OUTCOME No change in the accounting, but the SEC will target gains of execs who inflate earnings.

TAX SHELTERS

Democrats are pushing a ban on tax shelters like those used by Enron. Bush's Treasury Dept. is taking a wait-and-see attitude.

LIKELY OUTCOME Greater scrutiny by Treasury and tighter rules affecting disclosure.


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