Unlike Texas Governor Rick Perry, I personally do spend time mulling over the immigration status of Mitt Romney's lawn care crew.

Nor do I think that Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax reform plan goes much deeper than catchy campaign copy. Overall, I think that the GOP debates have generated all the excitement of an over-caffeinated session on C-Span.

But I digress.

In reality, for those keeping score at home, the debate-cum-street fight worth following is the current  battle over private accounting standards between the Financial Accounting Foundation and the AICPA.

The FAF, hoping to end the 30-year debate on standards for private companies, unveiled a plan that called for the formation of a Private Company Standards Improvement Council, an 11-15 member entity that will propose and vote on private standards, but remain under the purview of the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

Undoubtedly angered over the FAF ignoring the report from the Blue Ribbon Panel on Standard-Setting for Private Companies, which recommended establishing a separate but independent board, the institute, at last week's Fall Meeting of Council, gave its board the option of creating a separate body to develop accounting standards for private companies, should the FAF, well, not come to its senses.

Sort of like accounting's version of "see that line on the floor? I dare you to step over it."

That action was preceded by an AICPA-led pair of national letter-writing campaigns to the FAF calling for the separate independent entity, an effort that garnered roughly 3,000 comments.

To be fair, the AICPA is not the only group critical of the FAF plan, which many see as merely the status quo in terms of private company standards. Critics say that the council, is merely a rebranded version of the 2006 Private Company Financial Reporting Committee, complete with a jazzier title and more people.

For its part, the FAF counters that the new council,

while not a separate body, does have the authority to set its own agenda, as well as the ability to vote.

AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon and vice chairman Richard Caturano insist this is not a strategy to assume control over setting private standards, a statement ready-made for Ronald Reagan's "trust but verify" axiom.

If more than one person from the same organization is needed to refute swirling rumor, it often goes a bit deeper than that. So for the time being, I'll remain somewhat skeptical.

Nevertheless, this intra-profession battle beats the Presidential debates hands down. And it doesn't even involve immigration or tax reform.

In any event, it will be interesting to see who blinks first.


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