Weaseling On Corporate Reform

How else to explain the cynical flip-flop behind George's decision to gut the very corporate reform legislation he had so loudly taken credit for only three months ago? Remember him then? The greedheads of Enron, WorldCom, and all the rest were causing such a public stink that even Bush's own corporate shenanigans were being called into question, so suddenly he switched from being CorporateMan to being ReformerMan.

He even went to Wall Street to wag his finger at corporate wrongdoers, calling for legislative reform. Sure enough, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley bill to re-regulate corporate America, including beefing up the anemic budget of the SEC so this watchdog agency would have some teeth. Bush made a big political flourish of signing this bill, bragging that the new budget would provide additional investigators and new technology so "corporate misdeeds will be found and will be punished."

It was a great show, but as soon as the TV cameras went away, Bush took off his ReformerMan costume and became CorporateMan again. He quietly slashed SEC's new enforcement budget, leaving it toothless to battle the corporate greedheads who continue to rip off investors, loot worker's pensions, run tax scams, cheat consumers, and generally profiteer at our expense. With George's cuts, the agency is no match for the corporate finaglers. In fact, one firm alone, Merrill Lynch, has a bigger legal staff dealing with regulatory matters than the entire enforcement division of the SEC. But the White House has coldly calculated that, since corporate scandals are no longer leading the news, having been driven off the front pages by Bush's warmongering against Iraq, they can now renege on their reform promises and do a favor for their corporate campaign contributors.

To help stop this weaseling on corporate crime, call Public Citizen, 202-588-1000.

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