NEWS AND OPINION:
They will be liberated from the domination of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush for a few hours. That would be the 23 high-profile speakers headed for the bodacious Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines on Saturday who will be free to test their messages and strike a presidential pose without feeling like also-rans. Romney and Bush, both White House front-runners who dominate the polls, will not be in attendance . But there’s intrigue following a New York Times report that the pair will actually meet privately in Utah. Meanwhile, the free event is ready for launch at Hoyt Sherman Place, a grand historic venue built in 1877. The theme is “Getting America Back on Track,” the hosts are Rep. Steve King and Citizens United. Also in the crowd: 150 slavering journalists and about 1,300 attendees, who will be treated to a traditional “box lunch.”
For all its old school political flourishes, the summit has drawn the conservatives of the moment, who each get an intense 20 minutes at the microphone. Sen Joni Ernst, fresh from a well-received Republican response to the State of the Union address, will be front and center, along with Sen. Ted Cruz. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is quickly turning into the current “it” guy among GOP hopefuls, will be on the roster, along with Sens. Mike Lee and Chuck Grassley, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Jim DeMint and the ever-ready Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and John R. Bolton. Conservative celebs Sarah Palin, Ben Carson and Donald Trump are confirmed, as well as a host of Iowans: Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Kim Reynolds and Rep. Rod Blum.
MS. WASSERMAN SHULTZ TO IOWA TOO
Not to be outdone, Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will also be in Des Moines on Saturday morning, staging a press conference right across the street from the aforementioned summit with Iowa Democratic Party Chair Andy McGuire. Yes, right across the street. The pair will be talking about the GOP hopefuls, they say, and “their decision to keep Rep. Steve King in such close company. Ms. Wasserman Shultz is not keen on the fact that Mr. King recently referred to “a young Dreamer as a ‘deportable’,” she says.
A $41 BILLION ADDRESS
Oh well. President Obama‘s virtuous “tone-setting” State of the Union Address would increase federal spending by $40.967 billion per year, and none of his proposals would decrease spending. So say the ultimate bean counters at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, who went over the speech line by line — something the organization has done for the last 15 years.
“If the country is looking for a message in the State of the Union, it’s ‘more of the same,’ as President Obama’s wish list would rack up a $41 billion total with no reductions in outlays,” says Demian Brady, who led the analysis and says the cost is about average for Mr. Obama. “The president discussed some unquantifiable items taxpayers will want to note as potentially quite costly, and many of the ‘tax cuts’ he proposed are actually new spending increases.”
CONFUSED BY ‘PAIN CAPABLE’
Some are still trying to figure out why Republicans jumped back from the scheduled vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act as if it were radioactive. Townhall.com correspondent Guy Benson calls it a “debacle” and wonders why Reps. Rene L. Ellmers of North Carolina and Jackie Walorski of Indiana raised objections to language in the bill, though both were elected as pro-life candidates. He also questions Republican leadership. “By scuttling the vote at the eleventh hour, they managed to hand the left and their heavily pro-choice media pals a handy narrative about Republicans being too extreme even for the women in their own party. Quite a feat,” Mr. Benson says.
“Congressional Republicans need to settle whatever differences they have about this bill, get to work and keep the promises they made to the voters and pass it. GOP leaders and candidates repeatedly said they’d pass this bill, and they were rewarded with the votes of countless pro-life voters. If the Republican Party does nothing to stand up to this horrific injustice, they stand for nothing,” says Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica, a grass-roots group supporting traditional values.
“The good news is that the fetal pain bill will be revisited, likely soon. There is no more courageous or tenacious champion of life in Congress than Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, so I believe him when he says the pain-capable legislation is only delayed and that the bill will be back on the floor very, very shortly,” says Rob Schwarzwalder, senior vice president of the Family Research Council.
ON THE RADAR
A trio of Republican presidential kingpins will share the same stage in a mere 48 hours. Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio appear Sunday at the “American Recovery Policy Forum” in Palm Springs, California, to be moderated by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl. Freedom Partners, a free market, free society nonprofit, has organized the big moment.
“We hope that this panel will give each participant the opportunity to lay out their vision for a more free and prosperous society,” says spokesman James Davis. The event can be seen at 11:30 p.m. EST streamed live at ABCNews.com
WEEKEND REAL ESTATE
For sale: 924 N. Clark Street Electrical Sub-Station, built in Chicago in 1916 and converted to contemporary luxury “industrial chic” mansion in Gold Coast section. Original Art Deco style facade, four stories, large lawn, original light wells, renovated wood flooring, terraces and atriums. Six bedrooms, nine baths, 15,000 square feet of living space. Two state-of-the-art kitchens, expansive dining room, rooftop greenhouse, elevator, gym, wine cellar and tasting room, four-car garage, pool and patio.
Priced at $13.9 million through Kathleen-Malone.com under “My Listings.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 70 percent of Americans give a favorable review of the CDC; 57 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats agree.
• 68 percent overall give a favorable review of NASA; 63 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats agree.
• 65 percent give a favorable review of the Department of Defense; 66 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of independents and 70 percent of Democrats agree.
• 59 percent give a favorable review of the EPA; 36 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of independents and 80 percent of Democrats agree.
• 54 percent give a favorable review of the CIA; 64 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats agree.
• 52 percent give a favorable review of the VA; 43 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats agree.
• 45 percent give a favorable review of the IRS; 30 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of independents and 62 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,504 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 7-11.
• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.