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.

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.

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.

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.

The 10 biggest breaks, deductions and credits in the U.S. income tax code are costing the Treasury $900 billion this year, with more than half of that total benefiting the wealthiest 20 percent of taxpayers.

When the House held its much-anticipated hearing on Benghazi Wednesday, one major figure not at the witness table was Thomas Pickering, the former ambassador and co-chair of the Accountability Review Board that reported on last September's attacks.

Why wasn't he there?

That's somewhat in dispute. California Republican Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Pickering and report co-author Adm. Mike Mullen.

In the U.S. Senate, it's down to the Final Four versus the Dynamic Duo.

Only four Democratic senators remain who do not support same-sex marriage. Across the aisle, there are now two Republicans who have announced their support.

The new alignments mean that a majority — 53 senators — now support a concept that 85 senators voted to ban in 1996 with the Defense of Marriage Act.

Democrats who haven't controlled the governor's mansion in Tallahassee in 14 years could have a good opportunity to win it back next November.