Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Was it the kettle to the pot?

As Congress is on its high horse about corporate accounting shenanigans this interchange was amusing:

From Inside Politics, July 22, 2002:

Credibility gap

Rep. Tom DeLay, in an interview on CNN's "Saturday Edition," was asked by host Jonathan Karl if Congress doesn't have a "credibility problem" when it lectures corporate America, given its own track record "with its own books."

Mr. Karl offered the following examples of slick federal accounting and appropriations practices:

"Congress, in the last budget last year, classified $4.5 billion for the census as emergency spending. We've been doing a census since 1790. They also shifted a military payday from the first day of 2001 to the last day of 2000, creating savings of $2.3 billion that wasn't there. And they also shifted a corporate tax deadline from the end of 2000 to the beginning of 2001. That move created an extra $23 billion in mythical income for the federal government."

Mr. Karl said those practices are "almost exactly the kind of thing Enron and WorldCom are accused of, this kind of moving of numbers around to make one year look better than the other." Mr. DeLay did not disagree, and he readily acknowledged "those kinds of actions cause a credibility problem." "But we're trying to stop them. We fight every day against the big spenders in Congress to stop the cooking of the books, to stop playing games as you described. In most cases, we're able to stop them," said the Texas Republican, the House's third-in-command.

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