S.V. Date

As Republican leaders in the House and Senate unveil their proposed budgets this week, here is the most important thing to remember about the federal budget: It isn't really a budget.

Jeb Bush walked into the lion's den of the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday, and walked out smiling — thanks to a few busloads of his supporters who proved louder and more persistent than his hecklers.

Bush, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, started out unevenly in his interview-style appearance, rushing through his answers to Fox News host Sean Hannity, using clunky phrases from his stump speech, and at times almost shouting to overcome boos and taunts.

For close to a decade, Jeb Bush's audiences have almost exclusively been people who have paid good money to hear him speak.

That changes today, when he appears at the Conservative Political Action Conference — where potential 2016 presidential rivals are already taking shots at him and some activists are organizing a walkout.

The son and brother of the last two Republican presidents vowed to be his "own man" in a foreign policy speech Wednesday. But he failed to outline a plan to deal with a major focus of those previous two Bush foreign policies: Iraq.

Likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush spoke and took questions for more than an hour at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He addressed trade deals with Asia and Latin America, support for Ukraine, pushing democracy in Cuba, stopping nuclear proliferation, fighting the so-called Islamic State — even the revolution in Tunisia.

Not-quite-yet presidential candidate Jeb Bush posted the first chapter of an e-book about his two terms as Florida governor online Monday, along with six massive files containing a quarter-million of his official emails.

After dozens of votes attacking Obamacare in recent years, House Republicans' latest attempt Tuesday finally gets real.

Not in the sense that the full repeal bill will become law — it's not likely to pass the Senate and, in any event, faces a certain presidential veto even if it somehow does. What makes today a milestone is that, for the first time, House Republicans plan to vote on whether to actually take health coverage away from millions of Americans who now have it.

The federal deficit is on track to its lowest level as a percentage of the economy since 2007, and the economy is stronger than expected.

That's the good news from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's new economic outlook released Monday. "Economic activity will expand at a solid pace in 2015 and over the next few years — reducing the amount of underused resources, or 'slack,' in the economy," the report said.

Republican heavyweights Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush are already out shaking the money trees for possible 2016 presidential runs, and now Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is putting out the word that he is, too.

What do you have when the State of the Union response is assigned to an English-only advocate — but then is reprised in Spanish by someone who supports a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here unlawfully?

You have some explaining to do, that's what.

After months of hints and Hamlet-esque worries about the woes of a modern presidential campaign, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced on a Facebook post that he is "actively" exploring a presidential run.

House and Senate negotiators who thought they were close to a deal renewing expired tax breaks have a new factor to worry about: a veto threat from a White House unhappy about helping businesses but not the working poor.

The veto threat comes with Congress on Thanksgiving recess and planning only a couple of work weeks in December before it adjourns.

Former Florida GOP Gov. Jeb Bush defended the Common Core education standards Thursday, but offered an olive branch to Republican activists who oppose them and are making them a litmus test for potential 2016 presidential candidates.

Bush's longtime support has put him crosswise with part of the Republican base. He said that he finds the new angst over Common Core "troubling," but that there is room for disagreement among those who more generally support school reform.

With the Louisiana Senate runoff driving votes in both chambers of Congress on the Keystone XL pipeline, here's a question: How many of those jobs will actually be in Louisiana?

The answer: zero.

Everyone knows Sen. Mitch McConnell had a great election night in Kentucky last week. As for the state's other Republican senator, Rand Paul, that's a different matter.

That's because while McConnell was cruising to a big re-election win on his way to becoming Senate majority leader, things did not go so well for Paul. He was hoping Republicans, who already control the Kentucky Senate, would also take over the state House — a result that would grease the path for a state law allowing him to run for both re-election and the presidency at the same time.

That "be on the lookout list" used to flag Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny of their tax-exemption applications?

It turns out it wasn't the only one the Internal Revenue Service had been using.

There were also other lists, covering a "broad spectrum" of categories and cases, according to a preliminary IRS report released Monday.

"Once we came to that conclusion, we took immediate action to suspend the use of these lists in the Exempt Organizations unit within IRS," said Danny Werfel, the new acting chief of the IRS, in a conference call with reporters.

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