Another Example of Democrats Blocking Reform – McCain’s attempt at reform “Scuttled”

McCain Accounting Proposal Scuttled

Senate Rejects Listing Of Stock Options as A Corporate Expense

By Helen Dewar and David S. Hilzenrath

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, July 12, 2002; Page A01


Senate Democrats yesterday blocked a proposal that would have changed the way companies account for stock options, an initiative vehemently opposed by high-tech companies that have used such grants to award billions of dollars in compensation to their executives and employees.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tried unsuccessfully to attach to a broader corporate accountability bill a requirement that companies subtract the cost of stock option grants from their reported profits. But the Democratic leadership prevented McCain’s amendment from reaching a vote.

 “The fix is in,” said McCain, vowing to try to force a vote on the measure in the future. McCain’s proposal faced bipartisan resistance in the Senate.

Unlike salaries and cash bonuses, option grants to executives and employees are not counted as an expense on corporate statements. If they were, many companies would report weaker profits, and some companies that now appear profitable would post losses.

The ability of companies to dispense options as if they had no cost has led to huge executive grants, giving corporate leaders added incentive to cook the books and artificially inflate stock prices, some politicians and business analysts say.

After Republicans used parliamentary maneuvers to block Democrats’ amendments, Assistant Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) outflanked McCain. As a result, Reid spared senators the potential discomfort of going on record with a vote against the stock option amendment.

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