In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Obamacare premiums look like they will increase modestly in 2015, at an average of 8 percent, according to an analysis released Wednesday based on publicly available information.

Avalere Health, an independent consulting firm, put out the report, which drew on initial 2015 premium filings in nine states. If the trend documented by Avalere holds, it would severely undermine the claims from Obamacare critics earlier this year that premiums would "skyrocket" in Year Two.

There was already isolated evidence that premium increases would be fairly tame, but Avalere's analysis is the first comprehensive look at the public data currently available.

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The White House fired a warning shot to Republican senators on Wednesday after several of them expressed interest in using a must-pass government funding bill to block the Obama administration's environmental regulations.

"If Republicans want to repeat their government shutdown play to protect the profits of big polluters, they're placing a pretty risky bet," a White House official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the matter on the record, told TPM.

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An elected Hinds County official may have been responsible for a trio of supporters of Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) entering the Hinds County Courthouse after hours where ballots were kept on June 3, the night of the Mississippi Republican primary.

That's according to Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith who plans to release the findings of his investigation into the incident either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday.

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Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) has the edge in the race to succeed Kevin McCarthy if and when the House majority whip ascends, as expected, to the position of majority leader.

The secret-ballot election is Thursday and the insurgent candidate, tea party-backed Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), has the backing of some staunch conservatives but likely not enough to win, Republican lawmakers suggested on Wednesday. The two men pleaded their cases in a closed-door forum Wednesday for the coveted No. 2 position.

The whip race is the "one of intrigue," Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) said. It's among Scalise, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), the chief deputy whip and upstart conservative Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN).

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If early Republican enthusiasm is any indication, the upcoming Sept. 30 deadline to keep the federal government open could turn into an all-out war over President Barack Obama's executive actions to combat climate change.

As TPM reported earlier this week, senior House Republicans are considering using appropriations legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency's new restrictions on coal-fired power plants, aimed at cutting climate-warming pollution by 30 percent by 2030.

On Tuesday, numerous Senate Republicans expressed strong support for the idea.

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Let's face it, this isn't the most productive Congress. In fact it's even less productive than Harry Truman's famous "do-nothing Congress."

But one lesson House Republicans are taking home from Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning defeat is that any hint of cooperation with Democrats comes at a potentially career-ending price. Cantor was -- at least proclaimed to be -- committed to bridging deep divides over several complex and controversial bills.

Three legislative projects -- an Obamacare alternative, immigration reform and a Voting Rights Act fix -- were a heavy lift even before Cantor lost to tea party-backed economics professor David Brat in his GOP primary last Tuesday.

Now they're even more doomed.

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In 1975, Hillary Clinton defended a man accused of raping a 12-year-old child during the early years of her private legal practice. She wrote about the case in her 2003 memoir, "Living History." It was the subject of the 3,000-word story by Newsday during the 2008 presidential campaign.

But after the Washington Free Beacon published an audio recording Sunday in which Clinton discussed the case, conservatives then spent Monday dissecting Clinton's role anew.

The Free Beacon portrayed Clinton's attitude as "casual and complacent" while she discussed the case in an interview for a never-published story by Esquire magazine.

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With House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) seen as a likely to ascend to majority leader after Thursday's scheduled election, his seat as majority whip will open up. The intra-GOP battle to take that job is heating up as three Republicans jockey to lock up the votes.

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise is making inroads in his bid to rise to the No. 3 leadership position, facing off against Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam, the chief deputy whip, and Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman, a conservative upstart.

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In the last few days before the runoff election between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS), Cochran and his supporters are not hyping the senator's conservative bona fides or making clear plays to woo tea partiers who support McDaniel. Rather — the longtime senator who could very well lose in the runoff— is attacking McDaniel as a bit too ready to cut spending everywhere and unpolished to become a U.S. Senator representing Mississippi.

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