Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has never formally retreated from Obamacare repeal, but he has taken some puzzling positions, like opening the door for Kentucky keeping its new Obamacare exchange even if the law were undone.

And now in a newly published interview, he seems to acknowledge that the state's expansion of Medicaid under the law is also likely here to stay.

The New York Times recently profiled McConnell, who is facing a tough Democratic challenge from Alison Lundergan Grimes. Reporter Jonathan Martin offered some outtakes from that piece Wednesday, which included McConnell's comments on Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear decision to expand Medicaid.

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A few years ago, Lawrence Lessig, a professional troublemaker and Harvard University professor, asked some political consultants how much it would cost to rid American politics of money's influence. That would mean not only electing enough members of Congress who would vote for legislation to rein in campaign finance, but also a president who would appoint new Supreme Court justices who would uphold it.

"If you had all the money in the world, how much would it take?" he asked.

They told him $700 million. So this June, Lessig and Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush who is now an independent consultant, launched Mayday PAC to formalize the mission. Their stated goal is by 2017 to have a Congress that would introduce fundamental reform, defined as some kind of publicly financed campaign system.

The plan, which has drawn plenty of skeptics, even sympathetic ones, starts with a pilot program in 2014. They have selected eight candidates who they want to elect this fall, a way of proving their bonafides and the viability of the concept before expanding the map, so to speak, in 2016. The price for that initial venture is $12 million.

And last week, they got their first win. With Mayday PAC's backing, Ruben Gallego, a former state legislator, won the Democratic primary in Arizona's 7th congressional district. The super PAC that wants to destroy super PAC's is now officially in the game.

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Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) will soon introduce legislation to authorize President Barack Obama to launch military airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria within Syria, his office announced Tuesday.

Obama has already authorized limited strikes against ISIS within Iraq and will reportedly consider whether to strike the group, which has reportedly killed two American journalists in the last month, in Syria as well. Nelson's bill would give Obama the upper chamber's approval for the latter action.

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Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) has pulled a campaign TV ad that connected his GOP opponent with a prominent murder case, amid furor from Republicans, KTVA in Anchorage reported Tuesday.

The Anchorage Daily News reported last week on the ad and the resulting backlash from Republican nominee Dan Sullivan and his supporters. The ad, which appears to have disappeared online, linked Sullivan, formerly Alaska's attorney general, with the light sentence given to a sex offender, who was later charged with murdering an elderly couple and sexually assaulting their young granddaughter after his release, according to the newspaper.

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Medicaid expansion is making progress. As TPM reported yesterday, even states as conservative as Wyoming are coming around. Others like Indiana and Pennsylvania are making progress as well. But a handful remain hardened in their opposition. They are largely contained to the South, and that means that the people being left out of Obamacare's safety-net expansion are disproportionately poor blacks.

Nelson Lichtnestein, director of the University of California-Santa-Barbara's Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy, flagged the ongoing disparity in an email to TPM on Monday, responding to the Wyoming story. "There is a large elephant that escapes your notice," he said. "Republican governors in North and West are indeed climbing aboard, but not those in the South."

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Few states are as conservative as Wyoming. Nearly 70 percent of its voters went for Mitt Romney in 2012. Out of 90 legislative seats, 78 are held by Republicans. A Republican governor. It also epitomizes the independent streak found in the West, defined by a deep distrust of the federal government.

But even there, state officials are starting to open up to the idea of expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. The legislature requested earlier this year that Gov. Matt Mead (R) meet with the Obama administration to discuss the state's options. Mead's office told TPM that the governor met with staff from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the first time in July. Mead said recently that he would present expansion options to the legislature early next year.

"At the end of the day, the expansion failed the first time because of that federal distrust and general disdain for the current administration," state Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D), who has been a leading proponent of the expansion, told TPM. "It doesn't matter who's in the White House. The state of Wyoming is not fond of the federal government. But right now, it's probably even worse."

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This March, as an alternative of sorts to the Affordable Care Act, Florida's Republican-led government launched a health insurance website called Florida Health Choices. It had no relation to HealthCare.gov, the federal Obamacare website, and offered limited-benefit options that cover things like prescription drugs and dental or vision services.

But since the launch of the Republican alternative, Florida Health Choices has signed up 30 people, the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. By comparison, 984,000 Floridians enrolled in private coverage under Obamacare and 764,000 low-income residents were unable to obtain any kind of coverage through the federal law because the GOP- controlled state legislature refused to expand Medicaid.

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In a growing trend, Tennessee looks like it will be the next Republican-led state to move toward expanding Medicaid under Obamacare.

The Tennessean reported that Gov. Bill Haslam (R) said Thursday that Tennessee would aim to submit a Medicaid expansion plan to the Department of Health and Human Services "some time this fall." The program would cover more than 150,000 low-income residents in the state.

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