News, Straight to the Point

Before the holiday break, Republicans were committed to repealing Obamacare. And they wanted it done as fast as they could.

But even as the Senate began to move forward with dismantling the health care system, Republicans returned from the holidays with a sinking recognition that executing an immediate repeal of the Affordable Care Act could trigger a major backlash.

In December, the Urban Institute released a detailed warning of how the insurance market could collapse if Republicans charged ahead with plans to partially repeal the Affordable Care Act through reconciliation -- a process that avoids a Democratic filibuster but is limited in its scope -- without a clear replacement. Even Republican and libertarian health care experts were explicit in closed-door meetings with Republicans that the GOP was taking a huge gamble by repealing Obamacare without a replacement. As it turns out, some of the people who benefited the most from Obamacare are the same ones who voted for Trump and the Republicans. The Washington Post cited a fascinating number: Among poor whites, the uninsured rate has dropped from 25 percent to 15 percent. If Republicans were to pull back that safety net, there appears to be a growing recognition that they would bear the consequences.

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Attorney General Loretta Lynch previewed the final actions she and the Department of Justice would be taking before the end of President Obama’s term, while stressing the importance of career professionals in the department once President-elect Donald Trump's administration takes over.

Here are five points she made at the breakfast interview with Politico:

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President-elect Donald Trump's announcement Wednesday that he would nominate GOP megadonor Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education was welcomed by Republicans, particularly those passionate about charter schools and school vouchers, which DeVos has championed.

Progressives, meanwhile, warned that her selection was dangerous for public education and pointed to other controversial causes, including anti-LGBT initiatives and anti-abortion measures, that DeVos and her family have supported.

Here's what you need to know about Trump's pick to lead the Department of Education.

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Donald Trump announced Sunday that Stephen Bannon, the Breitbart News chairman who took a leave from that position to serve as the President-elect’s campaign CEO, will be his chief strategist in the West Wing.

Bannon, once a shadowy figure at the fringe of the GOP, used Breitbart to mainstream the brand of white nationalist, xenophobic and anti-feminist politics embraced by the so-called alt-right. He served a similarly behind-the-scenes role in the Trump campaign after joining the team in August, avoiding interviews and on-camera appearances while privately pushing the real estate mogul to embrace an anti-“globalist” message.

Though Trump officially named Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus to serve as his chief of staff, Bannon notably received higher billing on the press release announcing the Trump's first West Wing staff selections.

Here's what you need to know about the man who has the President-elect’s ear.

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A hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks sheds new light on the previously reported connections between the Clinton Foundation and a corporate consulting firm run by two longtime allies of the Clinton family.

Plenty of ink has been spilled on how onetime Clinton aide Douglas Band and Declan Kelly, who worked for Hillary Clinton's State Department, leveraged their connections to the former first family to attract investors to their firm, Teneo. Teneo clients were invited to attend annual meetings of the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative event, and the consulting firm used those meetings as an opportunity to recruit even more new clients.

The documents published by WikiLeaks this week purported to show that these intimate ties between Teneo and the Clinton Foundation made some in Clintonland deeply uneasy, fearing that they could lead to allegations of quid pro quo. One memo released Wednesday describes in detail how Band encouraged Teneo clients to donate to the Clinton Foundation, and pushed those donors to provide consulting contracts and paid speaking engagements for Bill Clinton.

TPM outlines what we know about the ties between Teneo, Bill Clinton’s private finances and the Clinton Foundation.

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Let's get the bad news out of the way first.

As you've heard by now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that premiums on the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplaces will go up by an average of more than 20 percent for the 2017 plan year.

The increases point to a system that is still struggling to stabilize in some places, as pressure grows on lawmakers to fix some of the problems that have emerged in the law since the passage of Obamacare in 2010.

Fixing those problems isn't rocket science, most health care policy experts agree. But the politics of Obamacare remains exceedingly difficult, as long as Republicans remain united in lockstep opposition to anything but full repeal.

Here are five points that help better understand the political and policy dynamics at play:

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When it came to Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed business acumen, Hillary Clinton at the Monday’s presidential debate had a plan: Take what he believes is his greatest asset and turn it into a liability, in the form of a reminder of the shady, scummy and maybe illegal things he did on the way to building his empire. And Trump couldn’t help but play into her hands. Any time she brought a business practice or comment that would prompt others to show remorse, Trump responded glibly–or even bragged about it.

Here are some examples:

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Watching Monday’s presidential debate was like watching two separate conversations. On the one hand was Hillary Clinton’s policy-heavy explanations of her positions and plans for the country. On the other hand was Donald Trump repeating in various forms what has been the core argument of his campaign: that he was going to be able to shake things up after establishment figures like Clinton had screwed up the country.

But a few exchanges stand out as revealing the dynamics of the two candidates’ debate performances. Here are the five big moments from the first presidential debate.

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