The 5 Biggest Political Events This Week

1. Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), (March 14-16):


The most conservative faction of the soul-searching Republican Party convenes this weekend for a conference full of big stars and rousing speeches meant to pump up the party base. The stakes are higher than ever, as GOP leaders position themselves to be the face of the party heading into midterm election season. With only one day in the books, Republican leaders are already coming out guns blazing. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the filibuster king and 2016 hopeful, has pandered to his conservative audience and called for the elimination of the federal Department of Education, the balancing of the federal budget in five years, and a flat personal income tax of 17%. Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Flor.) has stuck with values-based approach, emphasizing that the GOP does not need new ideas but instead should stick to traditional conservative tenants. Last but not least, Governor Rick Perry has come out saying that the main reason for the GOP’s losses to President Obama in 2008 and 2012 were due to Republicans nominating insufficiently conservative candidates, an obvious hint to his right-leaning stances comparoed to some of his contemporaries. There’s also something to be tangibly won at CPAC, as the CPAC attendees will have a chance to vote for their favorite out of 23 names for president. Live coverage of the event can be seen on POLITICO. The Washington Post also has a great article about five things to watch for. Also, read about 5 Republicans Democrats should cheer for at the conference.

2. Obama continues filling out the rest of his cabinet:


President Obama has moved closer to completing his second-term cabinet this week with the nomination of Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice for Labor Secretary and his all but finalized nomination of billionaire businesswoman and Obama family friend Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary, following her resignation from the Chicago School Board. With these two selections, it looks like Obama’s only cabinet position left to fill is a replacement for outgoing Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood. Obama now has a Latino in his cabinet and another powerful Chicago friend.

3. House and Senate Democrats and Republicans go at it after a few days of Obama’s schmoozing:


Obama’s new-look approach of shuttle diplomacy and Hill schmoozing has come to an end with largely rhetorical positives, but still few tangible benchmarks coming out of it. However, in the Senate chambers, budget and assault weapons bills are moving to the Senate debate floors in what should surely be another heated round of political discourse. The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Dianne Feinstein, has approved  on a strictly party line vote of 10 Democrats to 8 Republicans a proposal that would ban 157 models of assault weapons as well as magazines holding more than 10 bullets. The Senate Budget Committee has also approved, along party lines as well, a budget proposal submitted by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a direct counterpoint to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal released last week to the House.

4. Controversy, corruption, and a change of Heart here in the States and abroad:


This is kind of a potpourri of events. Living here in Chicago, we are no strangers to corrupt politicians and it looks like Detroit is re-familiarizing itself with one now. Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's recent arrest has destroyed a once promising career and left a struggling city even more disheartened. And if you haven’t already been swept up in the Pope Francis parade, here’s a fascinating read about Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s past conflict with politics in Argentina. The staunch conservative and once-favored 2012 Republican vice presidential pickSenator Rob Portman, (R-Ohio) in a CNN exclusive reveals his “change of heart” over same-sex marriage.

5. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) posting on PolicyMic! (Wednesday, March 13):


Whether or not you agree with the Republican junior United States Senator from Kentucky, you have to admit it’s pretty darn cool to see him write us an op-ed to reach out to PolicyMic's young, active, and spirited audience. Also, that ratings bump is sure to help as well. If it wasn’t incentive enough to read the published word of a U.S. Senator, the person with the most mic’d comment will get the chance to have any question of his or her answered by Senator Paul.