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SOTU Takes on Lobbyists SOTU Takes on Lobbyists

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SOTU Takes on Lobbyists

Taking yet another shot at Congress, President Obama will call on lawmakers to ban lobbyists from bundling and to enact the "same conflict-of-interest standards as the executive branch," according to an outline of his speech circulated by the White House. But, by once again playing the holier-than-thou card, Obama almost guarantees that those lines remain little more than empty rhetoric. 

A quick look at what Obama will ask for and why he won't get it: 

--Ban lawmakers from insider trading: A bill to ban the practice stalled in the House after Democrats and Republican expressed concerns about it. And, even if it did pass, it would accomplish little. Insider dealings are already against the law

--Holding lawmakers to the same conflict-of-interest standards as the executive branch: Ain't gonna happen. In fact, many Democrats and Republicans agree that Obama's strict standards have limited his talent pool and hampered his ability to govern. 

--Prohibiting lobbyists from bundling and bundlers from lobbying: Even in the aftermath of the Jack Abramoff scandal, it was a huge lift for Congress to simply require lobbyists to disclose that they were bundling. In the absence of another scandal, there is little chance that lawmakers will voluntarily derail this gravy train. 

Here's what Obama will say, according to a copy of the speech as prepared for delivery:

"Some of (the divide between Washington and the rest of the country) has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics.  So together, let's take some steps to fix that. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. Let's limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let's make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can't lobby Congress, and vice versa - an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington."

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