The Conservative Political Action Conference is drawing a huge crowd of politicians, activists and Republican presidential hopefuls, all looking to break the Republican Party's recent string of presidential election losses. It kicked off Thursday with speeches by two young senators interested in the White House — Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Last year, a federal program called the Earned Income Tax Credit took about $60 billion from wealthier Americans and gave it to the working poor. And here's the surprising thing: This redistribution of wealth has been embraced by every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama.
"This program worked," says Richard Burkhauser, an economist at Cornell University and the American Enterprise Institute. "And there's not a hell of a lot of these programs where you can see the tremendous change in the behavior of people in exactly the way that all of us hoped it would happen."
Winning over young voters is one of the biggest challenges facing conservatives. At this year's CPAC, there's an extra push to counter the advantage Democrats have enjoyed with voters under 30 in the past two presidential elections.
Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in which the justices unanimously ruled that defendants facing substantial jail time deserved legal representation in state courts, even if they couldn't afford to pay for it.
The next Republican presidential primary is so far off that some of those attending the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday could be spotted wearing stickers for two potential candidates: Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.
While Republicans are trying to bridge their differences, Democrats find themselves broadly united behind the president's second term agenda. That doesn't mean the work will automatically get done, however, so as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports, some of Obama's biggest supporters are meeting in Washington to turn the president's campaign momentum into policy.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. Here in the nation's capitol, today is a day to talk about future agendas. For Democrats, it's about the second Obama term; for conservatives, it's the future of the Republican Party. We'll hear about both in the next few minutes, beginning with CPAC - that's the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that opened today.