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SOTU Surrounded by Lobbying

White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that President Obama's State of the Union address was still being finalized. That might give some hope to different associations and organizations who have been writing the president to encourage him to incorporate certain issues into tonight's speech.

In its letter, the International Franchise Association outlined policies that it said would help businesses grow faster than predicted in 2012. IFA president and CEO Stephen Caldeira argued that small businesses need easier access to capital, corporate and individual tax rates should be lowered, recent labor rules are hurting small businesses and the employer mandate provision of health care reform should be repealed, among other points. 

And the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations wrote that the administration should push for the Small Business Efficiency Act and other initiatives that will benefit PEOs. NAPEO was one of the groups on a conference call last Friday with Obama administration officials, who encouraged the groups to submit their policy ideas and suggestions.

Government watchdogs are advocating that the State of the Union, which in many ways is a campaign speech, should be used to address what they see as the lack of transparency in campaign finance. Public Citizen and MoveOn.org sent petitions to the White House with over 100,000 signatures that asked the president to sign an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending.

"There would be no better time for the White House to stand for full transparency of corporate political spending than during [Tuesday's] State of the Union address, as the 2012 election cycle begins in earnest," Craig Holman, Public Citizen's government affairs lobbyist, said in a statement. "The executive order must be signed soon or it will become irrelevant late in the election season."

Earlier, the National Retail Federation wrote to Obama to ask him to advocate for policies that will help the retail industry grow and create jobs.

The State of the Union is also bound to release a spark of lobbying and advocacy starting as soon as tonight. As our colleague Fawn Johnson writes in today's NJ Daily, the address "matters to lobbyists, advocates, and policy analysts who have been prepping their reaction for weeks and using whatever channels they can to let the White House know what they want to hear."

Johnson has more (for subscribers):

A simple mention in the State of the Union can anchor a narrow topic into the city's swirling policy chatter and ensure that the industry folks closest to it are "in the game," or at least perceived to be. ...

For anyone who makes a living on shifting public policy, Tuesday's State of the Union will open the starting gate for a yearlong lobbying marathon that will be fueled along the way by government budgets, appropriations bills and/or continuing resolutions, election fallout, and the crowning finish of a lame-duck congressional session.

Ready. Set. Go.

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