Obama critics turning up the heat

This weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference will bring together most of the GOP's potential 2012 presidential contenders (with two notable exceptions: Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee). Here's who to watch.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 10, 2011; 8:47 AM

Let the Obama-bashing begin.

On Capitol Hill, House Republicans on Thursday will formally release a proposal to cut billions from this year's appropriations, an effort to curb what they view as over-spending by congressional Democrats and the White House over the past two years.

Across town, a group of Republican presidential hopefuls will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, looking to woo GOP activists who strongly dislike President Obama's policies.

It will be the first of many days over the next two years in which one group of Republicans tries to effectively overturn Obama's policies, while another vies to replace him.

Potential 2012 candidates such as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) are among those speaking at CPAC on Thursday. Who won't be there? Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former Arizona governor Mike Huckabee.

The next 12 months in many ways will resemble 2007, when a new Democratic majority took over Congress at the same time as then- Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and other White House hopefuls headed to the campaign trail.

One difference is that the Republican incumbent of 2007, George W. Bush, was finishing his second term in the White House and therefore was not eligible to run for office.

So while the Democratic contenders four years ago had to stretch sometimes to link Bush with their Republican opponents, the GOP 2012 hopefuls can make a much more straightforward argument.

Obama today

The president won't be in town Thursday to defend himself.

A day after meeting with Republican leaders to focus on issues where compromise is possible, he is traveling to Northern Michigan University in Marquette to announce a plan to expand wireless Internet access.

Will Obama cut energy aid for the poor?

Check out this story from National Journal, about a controversial idea in the president's budget proposal, which will be released on Monday.

"President Obama's proposed 2012 budget will cut several billion dollars from the government's energy assistance fund for poor people, officials briefed on the subject told National Journal.

"It's the biggest domestic spending cut disclosed so far, and one that will likely generate the most heat from the president's traditional political allies. Such complaints might satisfy the White House, which has a vested interest in convincing Americans that it is serious about budget discipline."

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