In it, but not of it. TPM DC

When Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott (R) takes office Jan. 20, he will be poised to engineer a remarkable political turnabout on Obamacare that was unimaginable even a few months ago. As one of the attorneys general to lead the legal charge to kill Obamacare, Abbott would have been among the last people anyone would have expected to soften on Medicaid expansion. But in what is shaping up as a sort of Nixon-to-China moment, Democrats and health care providers now believe that the state's prospects for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare are much improved.

Texas is the biggest "get" left for the program, which is expected to account for roughly half of the law's health coverage expansion. More than 1 million people have been left without insurance under Obamacare because outgoing Gov. Rick Perry (R) refused to expand Medicaid. That would make it a huge coup for ACA supporters: Texas accounts for about one-fourth of the Medicaid coverage gap nationwide.

Abbott is a most unlikely source of hope for Obamacare proponents. As Texas attorney general, he joined with other attorneys general in the lawsuit that eventually led the Supreme Court in 2012 to give states the option of not expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. His public pronouncements haven't differed much from his very conservative predecessor's, but in private, expansion advocates have seen glimmers of hope. During a meeting with state legislators last month, the incoming governor said he would seek out more information about the Medicaid expansion plan that conservative Utah has been negotiating with the federal government. It's a huge reversal, as Texas was one of the states that industry groups had more or less written off in late 2013, at least for the foreseeable future.

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With a little-noticed proposal, Republicans took aim at Social Security on the very first day of the 114th Congress.

The incoming GOP majority approved late Tuesday a new rule that experts say could provoke an unprecedented crisis that conservatives could use as leverage in upcoming debates over entitlement reform.

The largely overlooked change puts a new restriction on the routine transfer of tax revenues between the traditional Social Security retirement trust fund and the Social Security disability program. The transfers, known as reallocation, had historically been routine; the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said Tuesday that they had been made 11 times. The CBPP added that the disability insurance program "isn't broken," but the program has been strained by demographic trends that the reallocations are intended to address.

The House GOP's rule change would still allow for a reallocation from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund -- but only if an accompanying proposal "improves the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds," per the rule, expected to be passed on Tuesday. While that language is vague, experts say it would likely mean any reallocation would have to be balanced by new revenues or benefit cuts.

House Democrats are sounding the alarm. In a memo circulated to their allies Tuesday, Democratic staffers said that that would mean "either new revenues or benefit cuts for current or future beneficiaries." New revenues are highly unlikely to be approved by the deeply tax-averse Republican-led Congress, leaving benefit cuts as the obvious alternative.

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The advisor to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke who invited House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) to a 2002 white nationalist meeting now asserts that Scalise never actually spoke at the meeting.

Kenny Knight, who once served as national director of the European-American Unity and Rights Association, told Slate on Tuesday that Scalise "was not there as a guest speaker at the (EURO) conference.”

That was after Knight was quoted by the Washington Post earlier in the day saying he asked Scalise "to be the first speaker before the meeting kicked off.”

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Gilda Werner Reed and her son Robert say they have been sitting on information putting House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) at a 2002 event hosted by a white nationalist group founded by the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke for about seven years.

Now it is finally getting the play that they had feared it might never see.

In phone interviews with TPM Tuesday, Gilda and Robert outlined what they knew — and didn't know — about Scalise's appearance at the event and how the information ended up in the hands of Louisiana blogger Lamar White, who broke the story Sunday and sent the national press chasing his scoop.

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