Rivers of ink and the bits and bytes devoted to Sen. Ron Paul, R-Ky., and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in their long-running feud about libertarianism and bringing federal dollars to their states can only mean one thing: The 2016 presidential campaign season is upon us.
Think about it. There's really no reason for Christie and Paul to get up in each other's face -- virtually of course -- unless you factor in 2016 and that they want to define their positions and their opponents' positions as well.
Each potential Republican presidential hopeful appeals to a specific group. Christie is a take-no-prisoners, blunt kind of guy who revels in his non-Washington-ness and isn't shy about promoting his ability to work with Democrats.
For Paul, son of Libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas who sought to be the GOP presidential candidate twice before retiring, the dialogue points out his willingness to disregard the Republican playbook and philosophies that have kept the Grand Old Party out of the White House for eight years.
The potential 2016 Republican field likely won't be as big as 2012, but if former first brother and one-time Florida Gov. Jeb Bush doesn't run for president (The Washington Post says it's 50-50 right now), then Christie would fill the center-right slot while Paul would fill his father's seat in the libertarian space. Everyone else in the field -- right now Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal -- will be jockeying between the two.
The nation isn't even close to the start time for 2014 midterm electioneering and and already the pithy soundbites for 2016 are being lobbed.
REIN-ing in government spending
Legislation requiring congressional approval of the most costly federal regulations cleared the Republican-led House.
The Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny -- or REINS Act -- passed on a largely party-line 232-183 vote hours before the House was to adjourn for its August recess. Under the bill, both chambers of Congress would have to sign off on any federal rules carrying an annual price tag of $100 million.
The legislation was one of several bills considered as part of House Republicans' "Stop Government Abuse" week, an initiative they intend to herald during the five-week August recess.
Observers told The Hill the legislation reflects the Republican view federal agencies on President Obama's watch are out of control with their rule-making, foisting unneeded red tape and compliance costs upon business. To counter that, the bill would create a new hurdle regulations must to clear before taking effect.
REINS didn't stop there. Just before the vote, the chamber adopted GOP amendments that expanded the bill's reach, including one that would require Congress to approve any regulatory proposal to tax carbon emissions.
Democrats and pro-regulation groups argued the bill attacks the government's authority to enact rules to protect the safety, health and financial well-being of the American people.
The REINS Act faces a difficult road in the Senate, where Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced a companion bill. The White House has threatened to veto the bill if it passes Congress.
Massachusetts' independent gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk was named to the national list of "10 Politicians in the Independent Movement to Watch" by the Independent Voter Network.
The list, which includes Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins (even though she's a Republican) from Maine, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, lists politicians IVN said were dedicated to countering partisan politics and recognized allies of a growing national independent voter base.
"Falchuk is running on a platform of socially progressive and fiscally sensible solutions, and calls for a 'functioning, multi-party democracy," IVN reports. "Funding job training programs, anti-poverty relations measures and public health issues are among core issues he hopes to tackle, but his first action, should he be elected, will be to change Massachusetts campaign finance laws, which grossly favor the two party system."
The United Independent movement in Massachusetts, founded by Falchuk and a group of supporters throughout the Commonwealth, earned its political designation in January.
By the numbers
-- The Republican-led House of Representatives passed last week another bill that would end the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. This time, by voting 232-185 to prevent the IRS from enforcing any aspect of Obamacare in a bill called "Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care."
-- Rasmussen Reports on Friday said voters weren't terribly happy with Congress, but happier than last month. The national survey indicated 10 percent of likely U.S. voters rate Congress' performance as good or excellent -- up from 7 percent at the beginning of July and the first time Congress' positives reached double digits this year.
-- Also Friday, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll indicated 48 percent of likely U.S. voters approve of President Obama's job performance while 50 percent disapprove.
-- President Obama's favorability rating fell to 39 percent, with nearly 55 percent of Americans viewing him unfavorably, a national poll by the Emerson College Polling Society released Friday indicated.