News, Straight to the Point

Donald Trump's presidential campaign spent $18.5 million in the month of July, which was more than it had in previous months, but the candidate's money is still being doled out in unorthodox ways.

Trump still lags far behind Clinton in fundraising, spends a huge amount of cash on campaign swag, shows little evidence of having built a traditional ground game and relies heavily on a digital strategy firm that doesn't have much background at all in politics.

Here are five ways Trump's spending is upends politics as usual.

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News that Aetna, the county's third largest insurer, is slashing its Affordable Care Act participation is not the Obamacare-apocalypse that Republicans are making it out to be. But, coupled with similar moves by two other large insurance companies, the decision points to legitimate challenges some carriers are facing on the ACA exchanges, industry experts tell TPM.

The marketplaces are still working for other plans, and there's reason to believe the big insurers scaling back now might be willing to give the exchanges another try down the road, the analysts predict. Other issues might require the attention of lawmakers, and the hyper-partisan atmosphere that lingers around the law isn't helping.

Here are five points on what it means for Obamacare that Aetna is scaling back its involvement in the exchanges by 70 percent:

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Voting rights advocates have had a good couple of weeks at the courts this summer, having received favorable rulings in cases coming out of Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan and North Dakota. The setbacks states have faced in enacting restrictive voting requirements like voter ID and laws that cut back early voting, limited pre-registration or made absentee voting more difficult could affect minority turnout in key battleground states like North Carolina and Wisconsin. The recent opinions are also shaping the broader legal battle over whether these laws are veiled efforts to discriminate against groups of voters who lean Democrat.

Here are five points on the recent rulings:

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Republican leaders are patting themselves on the back for the rollout of what they're portraying as their Obamacare replacement plan. The policy paper, which consists of a broad set of aspirations without any dollar amounts or legislative mechanics, promises to slow the growth of health care costs through caps on government programs and on the tax breaks currently offered on employer-provided health plans. It does not, however, make any guarantees of universal coverage, nor does it provide enough details to assess its impact on the federal deficit or how Republicans plan to pay for what they’re promising. Many of the proposals have been trotted out before and have their own downsides when looked at in a standalone fashion.

Here’s what you need to know about the "new" approach:

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A lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party challenging Arizona’s election practices is the latest front in the legal battle over voting rights since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.

The legal complaint gives a glimpse into the meticulous details involved in election planning, details that, when overlooked, could have major implications for voters on Election Day. It zeroes in on Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, where March's presidential preference election featured hours-long lines that made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many to vote.

Democrats say that many of the problems would have been prevented had the Supreme Court not taken a major swipe at the Voting Rights Act in 2013's Shelby County v. Holder decision. Due to that decision, Arizona was no longer required to submit any changes to its voting regulations for federal approval. Now Democrats are asking a federal judge in Phoenix to examine Maricopa's plans for carrying out its general election in November and make sure minority voters will not be disproportionately burdened by the system. It is also asking the judge to block state laws that Democrats say will also disenfranchise minorities and other Democratic-leaning voters.

Here are 5 points on how Dems say Arizona screwed up its election.

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Last Friday Ryan Johnson, Executive Director of The Fairness Project, joined TPM Prime members in The Hive to chat about income inequality, economic fairness, and the fight for a living minimum wage. The discussion covered everything from the efficacy of ballot initiatives in addressing these issues to the resentments engendered by the Fight for $15 movement. Here are five of Johnson's key points.

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