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Accounting News Roundup: Obama Takes GOP to Task on Taxes; The Post-Labor Day Blues; Microsoft Accountant Taught a Lesson | 09.06.11

Obama Mulls Tax Cuts Beyond Republican Plans [Bloomberg]
President Barack Obama may press Congress for tax cuts that would exceed his past proposals as well as some of the offerings from House Republicans to strengthen his hand in talks on measures to boost the U.S. economy, according to a person familiar with the discussions. With Obama set to lay out his plans in a Sept. 8 address to Congress, the administration is focusing on cuts targeted at middle-income Americans to spur consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

News Corp. Alters Board; CEO’s Son Skips Bonus [WSJ]
News Corp. nominated venture capitalist James Breyer to its board and said two current directors will leave, in a shakeup that adds a new outside voice to the company’s board as it faces criticism of its corporate governance in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at its U.K. newspaper unit. Mr. Breyer will replace Thomas Perkins, another venture capitalist who has served on News Corp.’s board since 1996. Separately, Kenneth Cowley, a former News Corp. executive who became a director in 1979, will leave the board, the company said. Both Mr. Perkins, 79, and Mr. Cowley, 76, were expected to retire. The company will decide later whether to add another director to fill the open spot.

US banks offered deal over lawsuits [FT]
Big US banks in talks with state prosecutors to settle claims of improper mortgage practices have been offered a deal that is proposed to limit part of their legal liability in return for a multibillion dollar payment. The talks aim to settle allegations that banks including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial seized the homes of delinquent borrowers and broke state laws by employing so-called “robosigners”, workers who signed off on foreclosure documents en masse without reviewing the paperwork.

The Post-Labor Day Letdown [WSJ]
Labor Day stirs up a unique range of emotions. While some people love the prospect of crisp, cool air, football and fall fashions, others experience a stab of dread this time of year as vacations end, school starts up and pressures mount at the office. “I really get into the joy of life on vacation and it always takes me awhile to get back into the joy of contract law,” says Helen Bender, a law professor in New York. There are few studies or statistics on the end-of-summer malaise, but therapists, career coaches—even marriage counselors—report an increase in people seeking help in early fall. “Change is always hard and this is a time when both nature and our lives are changing,” says Betsy Stone, a psychologist in Stamford, Conn.

Mandatory Audit Firm Rotation and Greek Bond Accounting: What Might Have Happened? [Accounting Onion]
Tom Selling: “[In] Hans Hoogervorst’s recent letter to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), […] he expressed concern for the pie-in-the-sky numbers produced by some EU banks on their Greek bonds classified as ‘available for sale’ (AFS). Now, I would like to pose a hypothetical: what if mandatory auditor rotation had been in effect? Would Mr. Hoogervorst’s letter have been unnecessary?”

The Case Against Summer [WSJ]
Supposedly, summer vacation happens because that’s when the kids are home from school, although having the kids home from school is no vacation. And supposedly the kids are home from school because of some vestigial throwback to our agricultural past. This is nonsense.

Microsoft accountant facing prison for $1 million theft [SPI]
An accountant who admitted to stealing from Microsoft Corp. to teach his bosses a “lesson” will likely be sentenced to prison Tuesday. Pleading guilty to money laundering in December, Randal Ray Seal stole $1.1 million while working as an accountant at the Redmond corporation. Seal had become disenchanted in his work following a series of layoffs and a management change in his department. In a letter to the court, the 54-year-old faulted himself for worrying more about his ego than his conscience.

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