In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The specter of the Supreme Court gutting Obamacare and putting health coverage for millions of people at risk is back in a very real way, with the justices taking up the lawsuit that would prohibit tax subsidies from being given to people in the 36 states that use the federal health exchange, HealthCare.gov.

But while the White House has been publicly mum about how it would address that worst-case scenario, policy experts have told TPM that there could be ways for the Obama administration to get around such a ruling.

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The tea party and establishment wings of the House Republican caucus are already splitting over how to respond to President Barack Obama's promised executive actions on immigration reform, which could be issued as soon as next week.

The big question is: Should Republicans be willing to shut down the government to block Obama's unilateral moves on immigration?

The far right believes they have the 2014 election outcomes, and therefore popular sentiment, on their side. But leadership sounds more cautious about wading into another showdown with the president after last year's shutdown left the Republican brand tarnished.

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As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week in a flurry of lame duck activity, one last Democrat has yet to lose her reelection campaign: Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. She's not going down without a fight, but Louisiana Democrats remain skeptical she can pull it off.

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MIT professor Jonathan Gruber is once again a darling of the right, on tape confirming every suspicion that they have about the duplicity and elitism of the Obama administration. Earlier this year, he confirmed their version of events in the lawsuit that aims to undercut Obamacare by invalidating the tax subsidies offered on the federal health exchange.

Now there's much more.

A new video of Gruber has surfaced in which he seems to credit a "lack of transparency" for Obamacare's passage, while also referencing the role of "the stupidity of the American voter." It is, based on the video recorded in October 2013 at an economics conference at the University of Pennsylvania, a decidedly unappealing description of the legislative process that resulted in the most significant social reform in a generation.

It is given all the more potency because Gruber was a key consultant for the Obama administration during the law's creation, and so he serves, in the eyes of many conservatives, as a stand-in for President Barack Obama himself.

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One question has dogged Iowa's Joni Ernst throughout her come-from-behind election to the Senate: what kind of senator will she be?

Throughout the campaign, Ernst, a favorite of both establishment and tea party Republicans, has given few hints, relying more on her narrative and personal "charisma" than on strong policy positions to carry her to an upset.

But there have been times when Ernst may have tipped her hand. Here are seven important moments to know about as she prepares to take office.

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The GOP's blowout victory last week came with an important catch: it'll be difficult to replicate in 2016. The race for the White House is more likely to turn out the Democratic base and Hispanic voters are poised to play a key role in battleground states like Florida, Colorado and Nevada.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) recognizes this conundrum, complicated by his Republican members who nixed an immigration reform bill passed by the Democratic-led Senate. It's too risky to pass comprehensive immigration reform because the GOP base staunchly opposes it, and it's too risky to do nothing because that could imperil the party's hopes of winning the presidency.

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By the time Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moves in to the majority leader's suite just off the Senate floor, he'll likely be leading a caucus of 54 Republican senators.

That means he'll need six Democrats to break filibusters and achieve the magic 60-vote threshold required to pass controversial legislation through the Senate, such as hacking away at Obamacare or approving the Keystone pipeline.

There are six Democrats who are most likely to, in the interest of bipartisanship, join Republicans on some key issues and make life miserable for Democratic leaders and President Barack Obama. Think of them as the Ben Nelsons of the next Congress.

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