Although the 2008 presidential election remains 17 months away, attendees at the spring meeting of the American Institute of CPAs’ Governing Council were treated to a “trailer” of campaign issues as the former chairs of the Democratic and Republican National Committees stumped for their respective parties -- as well as aimed verbal darts at each party’s foibles.Former DNC chairman -- and current chairman of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign -- Terry McAuliffe told the audience that the Democrats didn’t so much win the 2006 midterm elections, as the Republicans lost it.

“George W. Bush, who has the lowest approval rating of any president in history at 28 percent, won’t be on the ballot [in 2008] but his policies will be,” He said. “2008 will be an exciting time for us. We should win in a landslide.”

“But,” joked McAuliffe, “I there’s any party that can screw it up, it’s the Democrats.”

Former RNC chair Ed Gillespie countered that the sweeping victory by the Dems in ’06 was predicated more on what issues they were against, as opposed to what they were for.

“We have a speaker [Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.] who said she was going to turn things around in Congress and the only thing they have to show for it is a $20 billion funding bill for Iraq with a lot of pork barrel spending,” Gillespie said.

In addition to the conflict in Iraq, both McAuliffe and Gillespie agreed that health care would be a marquee issue in 2008.

When an audience member asked them about the controversial alternative minimum tax, McAuliffe said that it was high on the “to-do” list of Ways & Means Committee chair Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.

“He’s obsessed about it,” McAuliffe said.

At the opening-day session, Council also voted on some 11 proposed bylaw amendments and a series of council resolutions.

Among the bylaw amendments going out to member votes included extending the date for the 150-hour education requirement through 2012; establishing a term limit of seven consecutive years for Council service, whether designated, directly elected or at-large, to avoid “perpetual membership” with an interim of at least one year after the seven before restoring Council eligibility; and eliminating the 90-day minimum requirement of sending members bylaw amendment proposals.

The institute also named Robert F. Kevane of La Mesa, Calif., and the Louisville, Ky.-based firm of Mountjoy & Bressler as the recipients of its 2006 Public Service Awards.

Kevane, owner of Kevane Co., was cited for his extensive community service, which includes serving on the boards of more than 40 local organizations. Mountjoy & Bressler was recognized for its dedication to corporate citizenship and encouraging its employees to serve on nonprofit groups throughout Kentucky.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dan Deines, the Ralph Crouch KPMG Chair at Kansas State University, was named the 2007 winner of the AICPA’s Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award.

Deines has helped spearhead a pilot program at KSU where accounting will be taught on an advanced placement level at seven high schools throughout Kansas.

“There is a systemic problem with accounting in high school,” Deines told attendees. “You look at the kids taking accounting in high school and they’re not the ones going on to college. It’s almost like a vocational course. Now compare that with the kids who are taking calculus.”

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