In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Republicans have signaled they want to force a fight over Social Security in the coming Congress and, almost immediately, Democrats have pulled out their big gun in the public debate over the program: privatization.

The House passed a rule earlier this month that blocked a transfer of tax revenues from the retirement to disability funds, the latter of which will start being unable to pay full benefits to its 11 million beneficiaries in late 2016. They were clear that they wanted to force a debate, with conservative wonks hoping they would use it to change Social Security as a whole, as Democrats have also warned they might.

So Democrats almost immediately started to use the 'P' word, which is a powerful political tool. President George W. Bush's 2005 plan to privatize Social Security turned into a political disaster after Democrats eventually coalesced around a clear, direct anti-privatization message, and the specter of privatization maintains rhetorical potency.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) agreed to expand Medicaid under Obamacare Tuesday, but you'd be forgiven for not catching that if you actually listened to what he had to say.

"I believe Medicaid is not a program we should expand. It's a program that we should reform," Pence said. "That's exactly what we're accomplishing."

His office didn't mention the Affordable Care Act when announcing the plan, which will cover up to 350,000 low-income Indianans. When Pence's PR team tweeted a timeline of the state program being used to expand Medicaid in that state, they skipped over the 2010 passage of Obamacare. But Pence has accepted Medicaid expansion dollars authorized by Obamacare to pay for this alternative plan -- which the Obama administration had to approve.

An Obama administration official had actually primed TPM to be ready for Pence's semantical theatrics. That's because it's become the norm. More Republican-led states are signing onto the key Obamacare program, but they are very reluctant to call it that.

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Democrats are giving Senate Republicans a taste of their own medicine.

The new minority is pulling out all the stops to stymie Sen. Mitch McConnell's first bill as majority leader — legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which faces a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

And in a possible sign of trouble to come for the Kentucky Republican, Democrats are having some success — even though plenty of their own members support the pipeline. A vote to end debate on the legislation failed on Monday afternoon, 53-39, falling short of the 60 votes required to defeat a filibuster.

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The quiet blow that Republicans dealt to Obamacare in the so-called CRomnibus spending bill passed last month has now helped contribute to the shuttering of one of the law's co-op health plans, as experts told TPM it might.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart announced Monday that his office would request that CoOpportunity Health, a non-profit health plan created under the health care reform law, be liquidated. Gerhart's office had taken over control of the plan in December amid financial struggles, per the Wall Street Journal.

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It's undisputed that virtually everyone had — for years — construed the Affordable Care Act to allow subsidies for Americans even if their state didn't set up an insurance exchange. But the Justice Department wants it to be clear that "everyone" includes the four conservative justices on the Supreme Court who voted to wipe out Obamacare in 2012 and will now hear a new challenge to the law.

In the government's brief defending the ACA, filed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday, DOJ returns on three occasions to the language of the joint dissent of the conservative justices in NFIB v. Sebelius. Justice Antonin Scalia was the de facto leader of the conservatives in that case, who nearly derailed Obamacare until Chief Justice John Roberts, much to the ire of his fellow legal conservatives, joined with the Court's liberal justices to mostly save President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement.

With Obamacare under the legal gun yet again, the government is using the words of the dissenting justices to suggest they themselves interpreted the statute then as the White House does now when it comes to the core question in the new case, King v. Burwell: Does the ACA allow subsidies on the federal exchange?

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LiveWire

Obama Prepares For DHS Shutdown

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama convened a meeting with key administration officials on Friday…