In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Democrats are giving Senate Republicans a taste of their own medicine.

The new minority is pulling out all the stops to stymie Sen. Mitch McConnell's first bill as majority leader — legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

And in a possible sign of trouble to come for the Kentucky Republican, Democrats are having some success — even though plenty of their own members support the pipeline. A vote to end debate on the legislation failed on Monday afternoon, 53-39, falling short of the 60 votes required to defeat a filibuster. The Keystone bill faces a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

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The quiet blow that Republicans dealt to Obamacare in the so-called CRomnibus spending bill passed last month has now helped contribute to the shuttering of one of the law's co-op health plans, as experts told TPM it might.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart announced Monday that his office would request that CoOpportunity Health, a non-profit health plan created under the health care reform law, be liquidated. Gerhart's office had taken over control of the plan in December amid financial struggles, per the Wall Street Journal.

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It's undisputed that virtually everyone had — for years — construed the Affordable Care Act to allow subsidies for Americans even if their state didn't set up an insurance exchange. But the Justice Department wants it to be clear that "everyone" includes the four conservative justices on the Supreme Court who voted to wipe out Obamacare in 2012 and will now hear a new challenge to the law.

In the government's brief defending the ACA, filed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday, DOJ returns on three occasions to the language of the joint dissent of the conservative justices in NFIB v. Sebelius. Justice Antonin Scalia was the de facto leader of the conservatives in that case, who nearly derailed Obamacare until Chief Justice John Roberts, much to the ire of his fellow legal conservatives, joined with the Court's liberal justices to mostly save President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement.

With Obamacare under the legal gun yet again, the government is using the words of the dissenting justices to suggest they themselves interpreted the statute then as the White House does now when it comes to the core question in the new case, King v. Burwell: Does the ACA allow subsidies on the federal exchange?

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Conservatives have long searched for an effective message against Social Security. Now, they seem to have found a new one to try as they set up a fight over the 80-year-old program in the coming Congress: The disabled are robbing the retired.

Social Security advocates describe it almost invariably as the "divide-and-conquer" strategy: Pit the program's two funds -- the retirement and disability programs -- against each other. The disability fund won't be able to pay its full benefits starting in late 2016, and House Republicans passed a rule earlier this month stating that they won't allow a transfer of tax revenue from the retirement fund to cover the shortfall, as has been done multiple times on a bipartisan basis, most recently in 1994, unless Social Security's overall solvency is improved.

Republicans have been clear that they intend to use the need for reallocation as leverage to force a debate about the disability program -- and perhaps, some conservatives hope and Democrats warn, Social Security as a whole.

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With a fight over Social Security brewing in the new Republican Congress, advocates are worried that a possible GOP angle is to turn Social Security into a perennial crisis in much the same way raising the debt limit has become. By setting up a series of forcing events, the argument goes, Republicans would be able to create an ongoing crisis atmosphere around Social Security that would create a pretext for dramatic changes to the 80-year-old program.

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