President Barack Obama will make a strong case for transparency in government and restoring trust in Washington, D.C., in his State of the Union address tonight, according to excerpts released of the speech.
“We have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust: deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years,— Obama says.
The president emphasizes that, despite difficult economic times, the state of the union is “strong— because Americans “don’t allow fear or division to break our spirit.—
In that vein, and in a nudge to lawmakers mired in partisanship, Obama says it is time that “the American people get a government that matches their decency— and that they deserve for “Democrats and Republicans to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics.—
Obama will also call on Congress to take steps to “end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve.— He points to his own efforts to run a more transparent administration by posting White House visitors online and excluding lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.
The president will call for swift action in response to last week’s Supreme Court reversal of campaign finance reform laws — a decision that drew fire from Obama and lawmakers from both parties. Congress should pass legislation to require lobbyists “to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or Congress,— Obama says. In addition, lawmakers should put “strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.—
On health care reform, the president will highlight that millions of people are likely to lose their insurance this year and that more small businesses will drop coverage. Obama vows not to “walk away from these Americans,— and, in a nudge to lawmakers divided on the issue, he adds, “Neither should the people in this chamber.—
Obama will also call on Congress to do more on earmark reform by publishing “all earmark requests on a single website before there’s a vote— so people can see how money is being spent.— Currently, some lawmakers post some earmark requests online.