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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

A new online web series from an anti-Obamacare group takes conservative scare tactics to a whole new extreme.

One video, which almost plays like an mini-horror movie, portrays a young woman who has "signed up for Obamacare" and is visiting her gynecologist. As her real doctor leaves the room, leaving her in the stirrups, a person in an Uncle Sam mask pops up to take a look.

"Don't let the government play doctor," the ad warns. "Opt out of Obamacare."

Chris Moody at Yahoo! News first reported the series Thursday morning. Another video is targeted at young men, with Uncle Sam snapping on a surgical glove (see above) to perform what viewers are led to think will be a rectal exam. 

The ad's sponsor, Generation Opportunity, is "a free-thinking, liberty-loving, national organization of young people," its website says. According to Yahoo! News, the group has financial ties to the billionaire Koch brothers. It will also be launching a television ad campaign and college campus tour this fall, expected to cost $750,000, to discourage young people from enrolling for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

The videos are below.

The latest House Republican health care reform plan, unveiled Wednesday, with many of the party's favorite concepts, isn't going anywhere. The Senate won't pass it, and President Obama wouldn't sign it.

But if it did actually take the place of Obamacare, some experts say that it wouldn't do much to help America's poor and uninsured.

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The Obama administration issued Wednesday a veto threat against a House Republican bill that would cut food stamps by nearly $40 billion over 10 years.

"These cuts would affect a broad array of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work," the administration said in an official policy statement. "Slashing (foods tamps) also weakens our nation’s farm and rural economies."

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that up to 3.8 million would lose their benefits under the bill. A House floor vote is expected Thursday.

The Obama administration introduced Wednesday consumer protections against fraud that will inevitably pop up as the Affordable Care Act rolls out next month.

Among the top measures is the call center for the federal-run health insurance marketplace, which will serve consumers in more than 30 states. Staff will be trained to handle consumer complaints and refer them to the Federal Trade Commission. The marketplace's website will also include a link to the FTC's online consumer complaint center.

All complaints will be logged in a FTC database that will be accessible by federal and state officials, senior administration officials told reporters in a conference call, including state attorneys general and U.S. district attorneys. A monitoring system will also be in place on the back end of the federal marketplace, so officials will be immediately informed if a marketplace worker tries to access information outside of their security clearance.

A rapid-response system has been set up so such breaches can be mitigated and reports can be filed to initiate criminal investigations if necessary, the officials said.

Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez met Wednesday at the White House with senior administration officials and select state policymakers to go over the plans.

As the Washington Post has reported, scams centered on Obamacare have already been identified and more are expected once the law's enrollment period begins on Oct. 1. Some fake insurance marketplace websites have been taken down; other reports indicate that scammers are calling individuals, asking for personal information for reasons associated with the 2010 health care reform law.

Other potential schemes could target seniors enrolled in Medicare, who would be told that they need to sign up for Obamacare, according to the senior administration officials.

The officials said that current fraud was relatively limited, and the plans announced Wednesday were intended to be preemptive.

"This is not a situation where we are seeing any large amount of fraud at this point," one official said, "but this is about being ahead of the issues."

Congressional Democratic leaders portrayed the House GOP's plan to pass a government spending bill that simultaneously defunds Obamacare -- sure to be stopped by the Senate -- as detached from reality.

"This is fantasy politics with real world consequences," Rep. Peter Welch (VT) said alongside House Democratic Caucus chair Xavier Becerra (CA) and vice chair Joe Crowley (NY) after the caucus's Wednesday meeting. "The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress. It was upheld by the Supreme Court. It was a major issue in the election. The guy against it lost. The guy for it won. The House Republicans know the Senate won't pass this fantasy. They know the president won't sign this fantasy. But they insist in pursuing this fantasy. At a certain point, it's like: Sober up. Get real."

Becerra reiterated that no House Democrats would vote for spending or debt limit bills that affected Obamacare.

Joining a growing conservative movement around the country, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) made a move Tuesday that's likely to impede efforts to sign up the uninsured for health insurance under Obamacare starting next month.

Perry sent a letter to the Texas Department of Insurance outlining new rules for Obamacare's so-called navigators, organizations assigned to help people sign up for coverage, the Texas Tribune reported. Those rules include: 40 hours of mandatory security training on top of federally required training. He also wants navigators to pass a state-administered exam and be subjected to background checks.

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George Elmaraghy, a top watchdog at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, says he was forced to leave his job for running afoul of the coal industry and Gov. John Kasich.

Elmaraghy explained the chain of events in an extensive phone interview with TPM. His story -- which the Ohio EPA and Kasich's office declined to comment on -- suggests an administration beholden to the coal industry and willing to push out employees who weren't going to capitulate to its demands.

It started about nine months ago when coal companies came to the state EPA with plans for mining permits that Elmaraghy said would have violated rules set by the U.S. EPA. Elmaraghy reviewed those permits, one of his duties as the head of the surface water division.

In conversations with the companies, he explained that the federal agency would likely reject the proposals because they violated federal law and encouraged the companies to alter their permit applications so they would be approved.

The coal companies didn't like Elmaraghy's response and went straight to the governor's office roughly three months ago, he said. The governor's staff worked alongside the coal companies to craft a permit application that was more to their liking.

Then on Aug. 9, Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally told Elmaraghy that the governor's office wanted Elmaraghy, a 39-year veteran of the agency, gone. He would either resign by Sept. 13 or be fired.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters Tuesday that she believes enough Republicans might balk at deep cuts to food stamps being proposed by Republican leadership to stop the bill.

"We're optimistic that we can win this vote," Pelosi said. "Maybe I'm just hoping for divine intervention, but I really do believe that there are enough Republicans who will not identify themselves with such a cut."

As TPM reported Tuesday, the whip count for the bill -- drafted by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to appease the right wing of his party -- looks uncertain. If enough moderate Republicans abandon the bill on the floor, it could fail. A vote is expected by the end of the week.

John Boehner (R-OH) is about to face another big test of whether fractious House Republicans can get their act together enough to agree among themselves on key legislation. And it's going to be a tough one.

By the end of the week, the House is expected to vote on legislation that would slash funding for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps, by $39 billion over 10 years. Made to appease the right wing of the GOP conference, the proposal could lose the support of some moderate Republicans, maybe enough to kill the bill.

That'd be a major embarrassment for GOP leadership, after they were forced to pull a version of the farm bill in June that included $20 billion in food stamp cuts because they couldn't garner enough support from conservatives, who wanted deeper reductions. Now the revised proposal, drafted primarily by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to win those votes, could be too harsh for some in the party's center.

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Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, told reporters Tuesday that his committee could evaluate the background check procedures for military contractors in response to Monday's Washington, D.C., Navy Yard shootings.

The alleged shooter, Aaron Alexis, was a military contractor and former member of the Navy reserve. According to reports, his military contractor status gave him access to the building where the shooting occurred. Prior to Monday's shooting, Alexis had been arrested for multiple gun-related incidents and been treated for mental illness.

"I think there's a real interest in making sure we're focusing on background checks for contractors, those who are working for contractors," Carper told reporters. "To make sure they're being diligent, asking the right questions and getting the right answers."

"When you look at the troubled history of the shooter in this case, it causes me to ask some questions: Were we aware of this? Whoever did the background check, were they aware of the earlier arrests, the charges? I'm not sure that they were. So we're going to drill down on this."

The committee may end up holdings hearings on the issue, Carper said.

TPMLivewire