In it, but not of it. TPM DC

A new round of chaos in the 2016 presidential primary has erupted, with a full-on revolt by GOP 2016ers against this cycle’s debate structures.

After widespread frustration with the tough questioning candidates faced in last week’s CNBC debate, a shake-up at the Republican National Committee has been ordered. A draft letter is being circulating with candidates making their own demands of the networks in return for participating in debates. And Donald Trump -- the most volatile element in the entire field -- has defected from his rival candidates to set up his own set of conditions.

The idea of a candidate-controlled debate cycle is not just causing the media concern for its loss of influence. It is prompting new headaches for the already exhausted GOP elites, and some Republicans are worried that too much coddling will harm their party in the long run.

Read More →

A letter threatening a lawsuit has made the Obama administration an unlikely target of voting rights groups, as the president is typically seen as an ally in efforts to expand the franchise.

The groups' concerns are colliding with another priority of Obama's presidency: his sweeping health care law. Voting rights activists say that in rolling out Obamacare -- specifically its federally operated health care exchanges -- the administration hasn't done enough to comply with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. They are threatening to sue the administration over the alleged violations, according to a letter sent by Demos, ProjectVote and League of Women Voters of the U.S. to the White House Wednesday.

Read More →

CNBC's Carl Quintanilla kicked off Wednesday's GOP debate with a simple question for all the participants: What's your biggest weakness?

He stipulated that candidates should answer "without telling us that you tried too hard or that you're a perfectionist." But that didn't stop the candidates from playing fast and loose with the meaning of the word "weakness." Here's how almost all of them awkwardly avoided answering:

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH): My biggest weakness is the other candidates.

"I want to tell you my great concern is we're on the verge of perhaps picking someone who cannot do this job."

Read More →

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) kicked off what will likely be a round of the GOP's presidential candidates bashing the bipartisan fiscal deal by vowing to filibuster the bill in the Senate. An aide for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was quick to point out, however, that Paul can't do much more than delay the process.

Paul -- who has been lagging in the polls -- made his vow to block the budget bill Tuesday afternoon in front of a group of reporters in Denver ahead of Wednesday's GOP presidential debate.

Read More →

Disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) is expected to walk into a federal courthouse Wednesday morning in downtown Chicago and plead guilty to charges that stemmed from an alleged agreement to pay out millions of dollars in hush money to a mysterious "Individual A."

And people who have watched the case told TPM on Tuesday that thanks to the plea deal with federal prosecutors, reports of sexual misconduct against one of Hastert's former students will remain vague—at least for now.

Read More →

Citing immigration as a critical issue facing America, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) asked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to agree to specific limitations on immigration policy in exchange for his support of Ryan's speaker bid.

"Immigration is far and away the most important problem facing America because it changes the voter pool, thereby controlling the outcome of every single public policy challenge America faces," Brooks said in an interview with TPM.

Read More →

Before Speaker John Boehner hands over his gavel to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), as expected later this week, he's offering the current Ways and Means chair an enormous gift: a big, almost-miraculous fiscal deal that takes off of the table most of the contentious issues facing Congress between now and the 2016 election.

According to initial reports, the emerging deal includes a hike to the debt limit, a two-year funding bill and even a re-balancing of the Social Security disability trust fund, which was expected to dry up next year. Additionally, short-term transportation legislation giving lawmakers a few more weeks to finish a multi-year bill is also moving forward. If those deals can make it through Congress as planned in the next few days, the initial months of Ryan’s presumed speakership will be a cake walk compared to the high-stakes deadlines he was previously facing.

Read More →

Gun owners feared President Barack Obama would use the "Jade Helm 15" military training exercise as cover for confiscating Americans' firearms and implementing martial law this summer. The exercise ended in September to little fanfare and without any guns having been confiscated.

But the underlying fear that Obama—and, now, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton—plans to confiscate Americans' guns hasn't gone away with the change in seasons. It's merely morphed and burst out into the mainstream after yet another mass shooting earlier this month at a community college in Oregon.

Read More →

Mitt Romney is finally ready to take credit for Obamacare.

Speaking to the Boston Globe for their obituary of Staples founder Thomas G. Stemberg, who died Friday, the former Massachusetts praised Stemberg for his involvement in pushing “Romneycare,” which in turn, Romney said, led to Obamacare, giving “a lot of people” health coverage.

“Without Tom pushing it, I don’t think we would have had Romneycare,” Romney said. “Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare. So, without Tom a lot of people wouldn’t have health insurance.”

Read More →

The House of Representatives passed Friday what was supposed to be their best shot at an Obamacare repeal measure to get through the Senate and onto the President's desk. The only problem is, yet again, it faces a math problem in the Senate: not because of filibustering Democrats this time, but a few Republicans who say it doesn't go far enough.

The plan for the bill, The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, was that it would overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate by using a legislative maneuver known as reconciliation, which only requires a majority in the Senate for passage. That makes it immune to a filibuster from minority Democrats. But the process is complicated, in part because reconciliation can only be used on measures that decrease the federal deficit. Full-scale Obamacare repeal, the Congressional Budget Office has said, would add $353 billion.

Read More →