POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Pay Attention To Rand Paul Before He Hurts Himself With A Chainsaw

Rand Paul used power tools to destroy stacks of paper representing the U.S. tax code, while running mate Al Borland waited patiently in the background for Rand to finish his antics so they could get to work. Senators unveiled a bipartisan highway bill partially paid for by cutting Social Security benefits for people with outstanding warrants, because America's roads are paved with sadness. And John Kasich has finally answered the Republican primary electorate's demand for a less-handsome version of Jon Huntsman. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, July 21st, 2015:

THE SENATE HAS A BIG HIGHWAY BILL - Unclear how it'll fit with the House's little bill, but everything usually works out when the two chambers have differences. Laura Barron-Lopez and Mike McAuliff: "With a little over one week left before funding for the nation's transportation infrastructure dries up, the Senate has reached a deal on a multiyear bill, parting ways with the House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the deal, which he had been negotiating with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), on Tuesday, saying it 'provides three years of guaranteed funding' for the Highway Trust Fund. Details on how the Senate plans to pay for the extension are still emerging. 'I'm happy to announce Sen. Boxer and I have an agreement on a multiyear highway bill,' McConnell said on the Senate floor. The bill will authorize spending levels for the troubled fund for six years, but currently only includes funding for three of those years. ….'Orally I’ve reached an agreement with McConnell and I’m very excited about it but we have to see the pay-fors,' Boxer told reporters after the party lunches. Boxer said she generally knows what the offsets will be based on negotiations she had with McConnell, but she has yet to see a piece of paper finalizing all of it. Boxer, the ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, wouldn’t offer details on all of the offsets that will pay for the bill, but confirmed that some of the money will come from cuts to Social Security benefits for people with outstanding warrants for their arrest, and another measure would prevent Social Security Disability Insurance recipients from simultaneously collecting unemployment insurance. Asked if she supports the offsets, Boxer said she would as long as the terms she worked out with McConnell are in the final text of the bill. 'Only if it’s cut back to protect senior citizens,' Boxer said, quickly adding a moment later that 'it’s been cut back to protect the vulnerable people so I feel good about it.'" [HuffPost]

McConnell couldn't get cloture on the new bill and is now threatening weekend sessions.

HIGHWAY BILL WOULD CUT SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS TO PEOPLE WITH ARREST WARRANTS - An idea spearheaded on the House side by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), who also authored the recently-enacted No Social Security for Nazis Act. Looks like Barbara Boxer's right that the arrest warrant provision was cut back, since a staff estimate says it saves about $2.3 billion -- half the $4.8 billion of an earlier Republican version of the measure.

JOHN KASICH GRACES 2016 CONTEST WITH HIS CANDIDACY - Terence Burlij and Tom LoBianco: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich burst onto the Republican playing field Tuesday with a freewheeling and, at times, emotional speech that hit on two main points: Americans should be working together and he can win, despite long odds. The second-term Ohio governor told his life story for 45 minutes Tuesday at his alma mater, Ohio State University. And it was 20 minutes into his speech, at times meandering and sounding unscripted, before he made it official: 'I am here to ask you for your prayers, for your support ... because I have decided to run for president of the United States,' Kasich told the crowd of roughly 4,000. Kasich tacked to the left throughout his speech, in a way that no other Republican candidate has this cycle, touching on themes of unity and support. 'There are those who say 'Just work harder.' 'Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps.' I believe in all of that. Some people just don't have the fortune we have," he said." [CNN.com]

UH OH… @HuntsmanAbby: #Kasich roll-out reminds me so much of my dad's four years ago. Same team, same timing, similar strategy. Hope it ends better for him.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Remember this next time someone tells you welfare reform reduced child poverty. Kyle Potter: "A new report on child welfare that found more U.S. children living in poverty than before the Great Recession belies the fanfare of the nation's economic turnaround. Twenty-two percent of American children were living in poverty in 2013 compared with 18 percent in 2008, according to the latest Kids Count Data Book, with poverty rates nearly double among African-Americans and American Indians and problems most severe in South and Southwest." [AP]

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TRUMP GOES CRAZY - And by goes crazy, we mean "continues to blather in his usual way." Igor Bobic: "Real estate mogul Donald Trump took his feud with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to new heights on Tuesday by hurling insults at the senator in his home state of South Carolina and giving out his personal cell phone number to the public. Addressing supporters at a campaign rally in Bluffton, Trump recalled hearing Graham call him a 'jackass' for questioning Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) status as a war hero. 'I watched this idiot Lindsey Graham on television today and he calls me a jackass!' Trump remarked…. 'I said to myself, it's amazing, he doesn't seem like a very bright guy. He doesn't seem as bright as Rick Perry. I think Rick Perry is probably smarter than Lindsey Graham.' Then, Trump upped the ante. He claimed that Graham previously phoned him for a Fox News reference and for campaign contributions. The celebrity hotelier, who is currently at the front of the pack in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, recited Graham's personal cell phone number and encouraged supporters to dial it….A call placed to the phone number reached a voicemail message that said Graham was currently unavailable." [HuffPost]

@LindseyGrahamSC: Probably getting a new phone. iPhone or Android?

@RebeccagBerg Can't believe I'm tweeting this, but...source close to Graham says this is a joke and he's def keeping a flip phone

Lindsey Graham: Call me, America.

HARRY REID LOVES TRUMP - Reid could not have invented a more perfect GOP candidate. Laura Barron-Lopez: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday eagerly linked Donald Trump with the rest of the Republican presidential field, charging that 'there is no meaningful difference' between them on immigration policy… 'John McCain, to me, is a hero,' Reid said Tuesday during his opening remarks on the Senate floor. Reid quickly added, however, that while Trump's rivals for the GOP nomination were quick to defend McCain, they were slower to stand up for the undocumented immigrants from Mexico whom Trump called 'rapists' in his presidential announcement speech. [I]t makes me wonder where were all these Republicans when Mr. Trump slandered billions.'" [HuffPost]

REPUBLICANS OUTRAGED POLITICIAN CITES REAL SCIENCE - Kate Sheppard: “In an interview with Bloomberg on Monday, O'Malley discussed the national security implications of climate change. 'One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation state of Syria and the rise of ISIS, was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that nation, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis that created the symptoms -- or rather, the conditions -- of extreme poverty that has now led to the rise of ISIS and this extreme violence,' he said. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called O'Malley's comments 'absurd.' 'Whether it's the weak Obama-Clinton nuclear deal that paves the way for Iran to obtain an atomic bomb or Martin O'Malley's absurd claim that climate change is responsible for ISIS, it’s abundantly clear no one in the Democratic Party has the foreign policy vision to keep America safe,' he said in a statement, via Fox News.'" [HuffPost]

'RACIST AND A TOUCH ANTI-SEMITIC' - That's our Donald! Contemporaneous reviews of the 1991 book TRUMPED! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump -- His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall, by John R. O'Donnell, said everyone already knew that Trump was an insufferable jackass just from watching him, but the book provided helpful confirmation. Here's the New York Times: "Mr. O'Donnell also implies that Mr. Trump is a racist and a touch anti-Semitic. Speaking about a black accountant at Trump Plaza, Mr. Trump, according to the author, opined that 'laziness is a trait in blacks' and said to Mr. O'Donnell: 'I've got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.'" [NYT]

DAVID DUKE WEIGHS IN - From a July 6th Stormfront comment on Trump: "At least he shakes things up a bit, though I am not confident of his acting in line with his rhetoric." Thanks, David!

RAND PAUL: COULD I PLEASE HAVE SOME ATTENTION? - Rand, you can have this one Dave Weigel story, but no more chainsaws after today: "The presidential candidate stands in the yard of his campaign headquarters, wearing blue jeans and a black and white T-shirt that reads 'Detroit Republican.' Naturally, it’s Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). 'I’m trying to kill the tax code,' says Paul. 'All 70,000 pages of it.' After asking voters to check out his tax plan – which would flatten the income tax to a universal rate of 14.5 percent, and replace payroll taxes with wage taxes -- Paul subjects pages of the code to immolation, chainsawing, and Fargo-style woodchipping." [WashPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Enjoy the IJReview's voiceover of Rand Paul's super macho power tool.

COMFORT FOOD by @DhyanaTaylor

- Weatherman cheers on spider catching breakfast

- The little skateboarder that could

- "Orange Is The New Black" as a one-woman show

TWITTERAMA

@MrDanZak: John Kasich is your friend's genial father who coaches your T-Ball team a little too seriously.

@RosieGray: Donald Trump 2016: I'm Not Locked In Here With You, You're Locked In Here With Me

@Bencjacobs: Congratulations to Lindsey Graham's cell phone on its new job at Fusion

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