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U.S. Business, Senses Opening, Counters Some Reforms

U.S. Business, Senses Opening, Counters Some Reforms

by Rick Turoczy on February 21, 2005

Sensing public outrage over business corruption in America is waning, some in the corporate community are seizing on the shift in mood to try to roll back reforms, say top U.S. officials and academics.

“There’s clearly a rearguard action going on,” said Maryland Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes in an interview three years after the Enron debacle that led to his co-authoring of landmark corporate governance and accounting reforms in 2002.

Business scandals are now daily fare for Americans, from the prison sentencing on Friday of a former top Boeing Co. executive to revelations of abusive trading in the mutual fund industry and the continuing trial of the former chief executive officer of WorldCom Inc.

Public concern about white-collar wrongdoing and dissatisfaction over soaring executive pay is being tempered by stock market gains and official assurances that reforms are taking hold.

That shift in perception, combined with November election gains by pro-business Republicans, has emboldened corporate lobbyists and, in at least one way, has already paid off.

U.S. Business, Senses Opening, Counters Some Reforms

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