In it, but not of it. TPM DC

It looks like Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) will be sticking to the promises about Medicaid he made towards the end of his gubernatorial campaign, instead of those made at its beginning. The Tea Party candidate laid out Wednesday his plans to "transform" -- rather than entirely dismantle -- the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

"We are going to transform the way Medicaid is delivered in Kentucky and this transformation I think will be a model to the nation," Bevin said at a press conference Wednesday.

By continuing Medicaid's expansion under Obamacare, Bevin will join a long line of GOP governors who have railed against the program but eventually come around to supporting it. The pattern is well-established and often includes negotiating with the federal government a special carve-out for a state-specific version of the program, a way to save political face by not seeming to have caved and become an Obamacare supporter.

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The most unexpected political story this year was arguably Donald Trump's domination of the early stages of the Republican 2016 primary. But nearly as fascinating was how the rest of the GOP sought to deal with the real-estate-mogul-turned-reality-star's unexpected rise.

Embrace him? Contain him? Dismiss him? Fight him? Those were the questions confronting the party since Trump's entry in the race -- at first viewed with mockery -- in the summer. While Trump could still fall short at the ballot box, he has left his permanent stamp on the entire race and even the Republican Party as a whole.

Here's a look at the various ways the GOP coped with the year of Donald Trump:

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It is as if Donald Trump just walked into a 40-year conversation on conservatism and instead of standing there, nodding his head politely as he got acquainted with the topic at hand, began shouting over the crowd.

It is essentially what Trump has done to conservative policy gurus this year. Trump has reached over anti-abortion diehards, foreign policy neocons, and supply siders to tell base voters directly what he thinks they want to hear and it's working. But he still doesn't have a grasp on how what he's promoting fits into long-term movement conservatism objectives -- nor does he seem to particularly care. Not only is Trump not beholden to the conservative movement, he seems more or less indifferent to it. And that as much as anything strikes fear deep in the hearts of longtime conservatives who see 2016 as a generational opportunity to control Congress and the White House simultaneously.

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More than 8.2 million consumers either signed up for new plans on the Obamacare federal marketplace or renewed their old plans in time for Jan. 1 coverage, according to an open enrollment report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services Monday.

Compared to the number of enrollees at this point last year, HealthCare.Gov sign-ups are up about 30 percent, HHS said, with 2.4 million new users on the federal marketplace.

The surge comes after HHS announced that it was extending the deadline for this open enrollment period from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17, having seen an unprecedented amount of traffic on its website and call centers.

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In his 2014 re-election, Mitch McConnell wasn't running on his personality, nor was he trying to make the case he was the most homespun Kentucky senator there ever was. On the campaign trail, everything McConnell said and did came down to one essential truth: a vote for Mitch McConnell was a vote for a Republican Senate majority.

Now, however a volatile and unpredictable presidential cycle could throw that majority into jeopardy and all of the building blocks McConnell's been laying through his three-decade career could fall apart if a bombastic or unpredictable GOP presidential candidate -- Donald Trump? Ted Cruz? -- wins the nomination and threatens his carefully-crafted majority.

"McConnell could orchestrate the perfect Senate race, but if the Republican presidential candidacy is a bust all of those candidacies could be washed away," said Kyle Kondik, an expert on congressional elections with the University of Virginia. "It would be interesting that here you have a man of the party establishment who played by the rules and at the time of what could be his ultimate triumph, the party establishment is thrown aside and all his work could be undone."

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A question posed at Saturday's 2016 Democratic debate suggested that since Obamacare was passed, health care premiums have skyrocketed. But that premise overlooked the reality that under Obamacare, premiums are actually growing a slower rate -- historically speaking -- and that they were growing at a much faster rate under previous administrations.

"Secretary Clinton, the Department of Health and Human Services says more than 17 million Americans who are not insured now have health coverage because of Obamacare. But for Americans who already had health insurance the cost has gone up 27 percent in the last five years while deductibles are up 67 percent, health care costs are rising faster than many Americans can manage," ABC News' Martha Raddatz said, before asking about how frontrunner Hillary Clinton would fix the law.

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Post updated at 12:09 p.m. ET. Congress easily passed the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package Friday that will fund the government through most of 2016.

The House passed the omnibus as a standalone bill by a vote of 316 to 113. Soon after, the Senate passed the omnibus and the tax extenders package by a vote of 65 to 33.

President Obama is certain to sign the bill before the current funding extension runs out Dec. 22, bringing an end to budget brinksmanship for this fiscal year.

Republican presidential contenders Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul(R-KY) voted against the bill. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was absent.

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As the battle rages over whether Sen. Ted Cruz has flip-flopped on immigration, key figures involved in the 2013 reform movement -- including a Republican senator -- expressed skepticism of the account Cruz is giving now.

"It's total bullshit," Frank Sharry, the executive director of the immigrant-rights group America's Voice, said of Cruz's current version of events.

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The “Cadillac tax” is not dead yet. But Congress put that key piece of Obamacare's cost controls on life support this week by including a two-year moratorium on its implementation within a larger tax package deal announced Tuesday evening.

The provision wasn’t a major surprise, considering that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had overwhelming come out against it. But it is a disappointing development to the policy-wonks and economists who continue to defend it and warn against attempts to undermine it without a measure to replace it.

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