- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2015

There’s more than one rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union on Tuesday. A cheerful and authentic Sen. Joni Ernst did the heavy lifting on behalf of the Republican Party. Then there was the official tea party response delivered by Rep. Curt Clawson from the National Press Club moments later. He is the Florida Republican who won a special election seven months ago by 40 percentage points, billing himself as “the outsider for Congress” and garnering strong conservative grassroots support. Mr. Clawson also holds a masters of business administration degree from Harvard University and is dead set on tax policy reform — including cutting the cumbersome and often discouraging corporate tax rate. His delivery on Tuesday night was succinct and relaxed.

“2015 marks a year of new beginnings for the tea party movement. With historic victories in both the House and Senate, conservatives are poised to push a bold, reform-minded agenda through Congress,” declares Taylor Budowich, executive director of the Tea Party Express, a political action committee, who describes Mr. Clawson as “committed to making Congress deliver for the American people” and the face of the new reform.

This is the fourth tea party response organized by the Express. The first response was delivered by then-Rep. Michele Bachmann in 2011, followed by Herman Cain in 2012, Sen. Rand Paul in 2013, and Sen. Mike Lee last year. Curious? The response was streamed live at TeaPartyExpress.org shortly after Mrs. Ernst had her say. Mr. Paul, incidentally, will offer his own take on the speech bright and early on Wednesday. He appears for a breakfast meeting of the Ripon Society at a rather swank private club a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Amid the bacon and eggs plus tasty coffee, organizers say the Kentucky lawmaker will offer reaction to the address, and the Senate agenda for the coming year.

BRACE FOR THE $320 BILLION TAXAPALOOZA

Yes, we already know that President Obamawill launch his not-so-secret taxapalooza — yes, $320 billion in tax hikes over the next decade — during the State of the Union speech. And here is one of the more poetic responses to the proposal.

“Democrats are demanding, yet again, tax increases on America. This never ends. When it comes to tax hikes Democrats are like a teenage boy on a prom date. They keep asking the same question different ways but always to the same point,” says Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

ROBIN HOOD: THE PREFERRED NARRATIVE

President Obama is now “Robin Hood” according to a number of news organizations in coverage leading up to the aforementioned tax plan, which lets up on the middle class, but hammers down on the wealthy. “Obama plays Robin Hood” noted The Hill, while Politico touted “Five things about Barack Obama’s Robin Hood tax plan.” CNN pondered this: “Republicans have long favored overhauling the tax code, but they argue a Robin Hood approach isn’t fair or effective.” While all the way over in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald proclaimed, “Obama turns Robin Hood: speech to call for closing tax loopholes.”

And from Rush Limbaugh came this comment: “Robin Hood did not steal from the rich. He stole from the government. Basically what Robin Hood was trying to do was simply get back the money that had been confiscated in the form of confiscatory taxes. He was not stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. That’s one of the biggest myths that’s ever come down the pike.”

STATE OF THE UNION, PART TWO

Never a dull moment. Fire up Air Force One, it’s time for President Obama to journey to the heartland to remind the nation what he talked about during the State of the Union speech. Indeed, 24 hours appears before the nation for his annual update, Mr. Obama will be winging his way aboard the magnificent, but expensive aircraft to Idaho “to deliver remarks and discuss the themes” related to his State of the Union address. Then it’s on to Kansas the following day for the same reason; both events will before substantial university audiences in local sports arenas.

“The president is trying to put his ideas in front of as many people as he can, and if he can go to an interesting venue where he may be able to attract the attention of some people that didn’t tune into the State of Union address, for example, then we certainly would welcome the opportunity to do that,” advises White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

STILL ON MESSAGE

Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney — if we nominate another candidate in that model, then the same people who stayed home in ‘08 and ‘12 will stay home again, and the Democrats will win again in 2016.”

And so said Sen. Ted Cruz to the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention, which ended Monday following appearances by Donald Trump, Rick Santorum and Rep. Mark Sanford. Of note: Organizers gauged the political persuasion of their sizable audience, and here is what their survey revealed: 38 percent describe themselves as independent conservatives, 29 percent are Republicans, 23 percent are “grassroots tea party,” 8 percent Libertarian and 1 percent Democrats.

THE NEXT BIG THING THIS WEEK

Some 1,700 fancy private jets are currently in the process of arriving at the World Economic Forum in the scenic town of Davos, Switzerland — simply known as “Davos” among the ka-billionaires who attend the event — and they are set to chat about terrorism, central banks, global health, geopolitics, the complexities of the internet and economic inequality, among many things. The four-day event begins Wednesday and will host 2,500 well-heeled business leaders plus 40 heads of state; see their big doings here: WeForum.org

Yes, but who’s going from the U.S? Among them: Secretary of State John Kerry, who has much on his mind these days; Pharrell Williams, the pop vocalist and spirited hat fan who is there to discuss the engineering of fabric from recycled plastic, plus Al Gore — who continues to fret about climate change. “We are at a critical fork in the road, a period of decision that will dictate the health and viability of our civilization for decades to come.” Mr. Gore warns.

POLL DU JOUR

61 percent of Americans say “government dysfunction” is a major problem; 65 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of independents agree.

29 percent overall say the dysfunction is a problem, “but not major”; 26 percent of Republicans, 23 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents agree.

61 percent blame the White House and Republicans in Congress equally for the problem; 53 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of independents agree.

20 percent overall blame Republican in Congress for the problem; 3 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of independents agree

18 percent overall blame President Obama and Congressional Democrats; 42 percent of Republicans, 2 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of independents agree.

29 percent overall say the dysfunction problem will get worse in the next year; 26 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Washington Post/ABC News poll of 1,003 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 12-15.

Big speeches and small asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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