Now You See It, Now You Don't

The inclusion of something termed "ethics training" in the House Republican majority's pending lobbying reform bill is the ultimate touch of drollery. It is a public relations kiss-off acknowledging growing concern about the appearance of scandalous money ties between Congressional campaigners and their claques of loyal lobbyists. At the same time, it is clear notice that this ethically challenged Congress has no intention of doing anything serious about reform. The House majority leader, John Boehner, conceded as much in observing, "The status quo is a powerful force."

As it is, Mr. Boehner has had to drag his members kicking and screaming to a vote this week on the cut-and-paste figments of reform that the House G.O.P. will be peddling to the voters this fall. The bill is even weaker than the Senate's half-hearted measure. Rather than banning gifts and campaign money from lobbyists, the bill embraces disclosure the equivalent of price lists for the cost of doing business with a given lawmaker. A bipartisan attempt at true reform was squelched as non-germane, as if the need to create an independent ethics enforcement body is not obvious by now after the lobbyist corruption story of Jack Abramoff and his back-door power over lawmakers.

The Democrats are right to oppose the measure. Some Republicans, worried that it will be properly perceived as the Bill to Nowhere, did point out loopholes in the proposal to rein in the pork-barrel earmark gimmickry dear to lawmakers and lobbyists. But no credible fix was made.