In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Haughty. Condescending. Pernicious.

Everything that the right already believes about President Barack Obama, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber embodied in his recently revealed comments on the "stupidity of the American voter" and the "lack of transparency" in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Now he'll be back center-stage on Tuesday to testify at the House Oversight Committee, expected to face a classic Hill grilling.

Gruber-mania has gripped the conservative mediasphere in a way that few stories have, becoming another brand-name controversy like Benghazi and the IRS. An academic who had been little known outside of Washington or Boston has been mentioned nearly 2,800 times in English-language news since news of the most recent video broke last month. Prior to that, across a career that spanned decades and after playing an important role in Massachusetts and national health care reform, he'd been named less than 1,000 times, according to a TPM LexisNexis search.

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It hasn't been at the top of the conversation about Obamacare, but new evidence suggests that yet another piece of the law is working exactly as it's supposed to.

A key provision of the Affordable Care Act that was designed to keep insurers from overspending on administrative costs or else be forced to rebate premiums to customers looks to be succeeding in not only reducing those costs but in lowering premiums.

A new report from federal health officials, which concludes that health spending had grown at a historically slow rate in 2013, says the so-called MLR provision is helping drive the broader easing of spending growth in the industry.

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The Republican-led House passed a bill on Thursday to block President Barack Obama's sweeping executive actions on immigration.

It passed on a mostly party-line vote of 219 to 197.

Three Democrats voted yes: Reps. John Barrow (GA), Mike McIntyre (NC) and Collin Peterson (MN). Seven Republicans voted no: Reps. Mike Coffman (CO), Jeff Denham (CA), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Marlin Stutzman (IN) and David Valadao (CA). Three Republicans voted present: Reps. Paul Gosar (AZ), Steve King (IA) and Raul Labrador (ID).

The bill is a carrot for conservatives upset about Obama's unilateral move to temporarily shield more than 4 million immigrants from deportation. It comes ahead of a planned vote next week to keep the federal government funded and avert a shutdown on Dec. 11 when money is scheduled to run out.

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Against the wishes of some conservatives, Speaker John Boehner announced on Thursday that the House will move forward with a strategy to avoid a government shutdown next week and at least temporarily let President Barack Obama implement his sweeping executive actions on immigration.

Boehner said he expects his plan to pass with "bipartisan support."

The Ohio Republican's two-part strategy is to pass essentially a symbolic bill by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) this week to disapprove of Obama's executive actions (in order to appease conservatives), and to pass a "CRomnibus" next week — an omnibus spending bill through September, combined with a stopgap continuing resolution to fund the federal department that implements immigration law through March.

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CROMNIBUS.

It just sounds bureaucratic, archaic, the embodiment of insider Washington vernacular. And that is indeed the well from which it springs: A portmanteau of continuing resolution, shortened in Hill-speak to C.R., and omnibus.

The House GOP leadership wants to combine them -- funding most of the government for a year with an omnibus bill, but the agencies responsible for President Obama's executive actions on immigration for a shorter period with a CR. It's the best plan they have so far to fight the White House on the issue.

And that's why this unholy congressional creation is populating news reports and press releases as lawmakers lurch toward this month's funding deadline.

But where did it come from? TPM undertook an investigation. The term is less than a decade old. Nobody seems to want to claim responsibility for this particularly grating Capitol Hill slang, but in a twist, a 2007 statement from then-House Minority Leader John Boehner appears to take credit for coining it.

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Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said Thursday that his party should work with Democrats to fix Obamacare if the Supreme Court rules to invalidate premium tax credits on the federally-run insurance exchange.

"I would think they should work at that," the Mississippian, who's now a lobbyist for Patton Boggs, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, arguing that technical corrections to major legislation are routine. "Almost always on big bills we’d have technical corrections."

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Donald Blankenship, in some ways the personification of Big Coal, is finally going to trial after 29 of his miners died in a horrific accident four years ago.

In the unprecedented indictment released by federal prosecutors, the man who has dismissed climate change as "silly" and once described American capitalism as "survival of the most productive" allegedly chastised his subordinates for worrying about safety -- "Now is not the time" -- and threatened their jobs if they didn't hit production targets.

Blankenship, who, as the New York Times reported this week, grew up poor in West Virginia before rising to become one of the most powerful coal bosses in the United States, came to typify all the worst caricatures of ruthless industrialists. He broke unions. He dismissed federal regulations and dared inspectors to catch him in the act. He described his industry in evolutionary terms.

"It's like a jungle, where a jungle is survival of the fittest. Unions, communities, people -- everybody's gonna have to learn to accept that in the United States you have a capitalist society, and that capitalism, from a business standpoint, is survival of the most productive," he said in the 1980s.

But with the death of 29 miners in the April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia, Blankenship's long run may finally have come to an end. He was indicted last month on conspiracy to willfully violate federal mining regulations before the accident and to defraud the United States by making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission in its aftermath.

The indictment lays bare the inner workings of the industry as Blankenship allegedly reminded subordinates that their "core job is to make money" and called efforts to comply with safety regulations "literally crazy." A system was allegedly created to cover up safety violations before federal inspectors came to the scene, and Blankenship allegedly urged his workers to "run more coal" no matter what safety issues had been raised.

For those close to the industry, the significance of Blankenship's indictment cannot be overstated. The Charleston Gazette called it "momentous." The Times noted that no other corporate head had ever been indicted after the loss of life at their mines.

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Political journalist Jon Ralston is a rare species of reporter these days: he's a nationally recognized reporter who's made a name for himself by dominating the Nevada politics scene. Earlier in the week, news broke that the long-running TV show Ralston Reports would no longer air after Dec. 12. on the station, which was recently bought by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. His newsletter and website will continue.

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