O'Neill Has the White House Running Scared

The Treasury chief wants CEOs to pay dearly for Enron-style bookkeeping, but that stern medicine may be more than this Administration can stomach

As the famously hands-on chief executive of Alcoa (AA ), Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill was loath to miss a stray carpet tack, let alone an anomaly in his company's financial data. That's why, as the official charged with giving President Bush a report in the coming weeks on Enron's implications for corporate governance, O'Neill is talking tough. His big idea: requiring CEOs to sign a financial-health affirmation statement that would make them more liable for Enron-style misrepresentations, whether intentional or not.

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