In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Whither the Obamacare truther?

Last week, top administration official Marilyn Tavenner announced that 7.3 million Obamacare enrollees had paid their premiums, as they must to receive and continue receiving their coverage. On its face, it was a relatively minor news event, a reminder that millions of people did sign up for insurance.

But it was also the end of one of the GOP's favorite anti-Obamacare memes. Those 7.3 million paying customers meant that more than 90 percent of the 8 million people who President Obama himself said had enrolled in coverage had paid for it. That might not seem surprising. But it was just a few months ago that Republicans were routinely questioning the official enrollment story being told by the White House, theorizing that a third or more of Obamacare sign-ups weren't paying their bills and that the successes being sold by the administration were a sham.

Read More →

One month ago, the Obama administration tweaked its birth control mandate to address concerns of religious nonprofits who said filling out a form to opt out of paying for contraceptives would still make them complicit in sin.

Since then, various entities that sued have made clear they aren't satisfied with the new accommodation, and will keep fighting for a complete exemption so that they can block off insurance coverage for contraceptives, which they view as sin, for their women employees.

Read More →

A federal appeals court threw out a lawsuit by a group of conservative doctors who sued the Obama administration for violating the Obamacare statute by delaying the employer mandate.

A three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday unanimously affirmed a lower court decision that the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons lacked standing to sue because they failed to prove that the administration's move would harm them.

Read More →

When Hillary Clinton spoke about women's economic issues last week at the Center for American Progress in Washington, the attuned listener might have caught a few phrases that sounded familiar. Laments about the fiscal plight of waitresses, bartenders, and hair stylists. The need for Americans to not only be able to get to the middle class, but stay there.

That's because they had appeared during another Washington speech that Clinton gave, to the New America Foundation in May, a speech filled with new rhetoric that might not have been fully appreciated then for what it was: a first look at what her economic message in 2016 might be. People close to Clinton refuse to connect the themes of those two speeches to her nascent (and not yet official) 2016 presidential campaign. The official line is she remains undecided on whether to run at all. But those close to her told TPM these are issues she's worked on for a long time and would likely continue to focus on in the future.

In these two speeches are echoes of her failed run in 2008 and more distant echoes from her husband's campaigns in the '90s. But in the context of a 2016 bid, if you want a first peek at what her prospective presidential message would look like, then that is where you should start. They aren't fully formed policy prescriptions just yet. They are closer to rationales for her running again this time. But she is honing her rhetoric and a few themes are starting to crystallize that could become the basis for cohesive message that pulls together her personal biography, her political priorities, and specific policy proposals.

Read More →

House Republicans have hired a new lead attorney to handle their lawsuit against President Barack Obama over his unilateral tweaks to Obamacare.

William A. Burck of the firm Quinn Emenual Urqhart & Sullivan has been retained, after David Rivkin backed out under pressure his firm faced from other clients, a House Republican aide with knowledge of the lawsuit said.

As Burck notes in his official biography, he was the defense counsel for Maureen McDonnell, wife of now-convicted Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), in his recent high-profile political corruption trial.

The news was first reported by David Drucker of the Washington Examiner.

Read More →

UPDATE: 4:05 p.m. In an unexpected twist, Kobach's office is ordering election officials to send out overseas military ballots without a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. His office would not say, however, what would happen next if the state Democratic Party eventually nominated a new candidate, as Kobach has said they should.

More here.

After his Thursday defeat at the Kansas Supreme Court, Secretary of State Kris Kobach unveiled a new plan to make sure a Democratic candidate is on the ballot in the state's Senate race. He would push back the mailing date for ballots sent to overseas military members and argue under state law that Democrats must name somebody to replace withdrawn nominee Chad Taylor.

But to move the mailing date for overseas military ballots from Sept. 20 to Sept. 27, as Kobach said Thursday that he would, he would need federal approval. And as of Friday afternoon, federal officials told TPM, he hasn't sought it.

The federal MOVE Act requires state election officials to send ballots to overseas military voters 45 days before the election. That would be Sept. 20 this year. States are, however, allowed to request a waiver if an "undue hardship" resulting from a legal contest arises -- and election law experts say that this circumstance would likely qualify.

Read More →

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) isn't backing down after the state Supreme Court blocked him from keeping Democratic Senate nominee Chad Taylor on the November ballot. He is now demanding that the Democratic Party select a new candidate, arguing that state law requires it.

What Kansas Democrats are actually going to do, though, remains unclear. If, as is widely believed, Taylor's withdrawal was a ploy by the party to funnel Democratic voters to independent candidate Greg Orman and unseat long-time incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, naming a new nominee doesn't make much sense. But Kobach seems intent on forcing the issue.

A spokesperson for Kobach confirmed to TPM that he believed state law required the party to fill the vacancy. He said he would consider suing the Democratic Party to compel them to name a replacement if they didn't do it on their own.

Read More →

TPMLivewire