Opinion writer

* President Trump’s nonstop lying about how the Affordable Care Act is imploding, and his constant efforts to make that come true via sabotage, appear to be failing in spectacular fashion:

Nearly 9 million Americans signed up for Affordable Care Act health plans for 2018 in the 39 states relying on the federal HealthCare.gov website, approaching the 2017 total despite an enrollment season cut by half and other tactics by the Trump administration to undermine the law’s insurance marketplaces.

The figure of approximately 8.8 million sign-ups was tweeted Thursday afternoon by Seema Verma, administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That represents an unexpectedly robust turnout, which compares with the 9.2 million consumers who got coverage for 2017 during a three-month sign-up period that ended last January. …

Verma’s figure defies widespread expectations of both supporters and opponents of the 2010 health-care law that enrollment would slump sharply as the Obama administration’s boosterism gave way to the aggressive opposition of President Trump and congressional Republicans — who have been trying all year to repeal much of the ACA.

In addition to shortening the enrollment period by half, the administration cut by 90 percent federal spending on advertising and other outreach activities to urge consumers to sign up. Funding for enrollment “navigators” was cut by about two-fifths. And amid the political turmoil of the ACA, surveys and on-the-ground reports of those enrollment helpers suggested public confusion over whether the law and its marketplaces still existed.

And keep in mind that now that Doug Jones has shaved the GOP Senate majority down to 51-49, it becomes a lot harder for Republicans if they have another run at repeal.

* The New York Times goes deep into the House GOP’s strategy for running on their tax cuts next year, noting that party officials admit that they will “only mitigate their losses in what is shaping up to be a punishing election year”:

Republican lawmakers, who spent much of this year forced to explain or defend Mr. Trump’s erratic behavior, now have an opportunity to go on the offensive with an issue that unites their increasingly fractious party. And they hope that up-for-grabs voters will reward them should the economy keep growing while their tax bills are falling.

“Once the withholding tables change in January, voters will realize their paychecks are bigger as a result of tax reform,” said Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio, who runs the House Republican campaign arm. But, alluding to past midterm defeats for the party in power at the White House, he acknowledged that “history is against us.”

Yep: A plan that delivers enormous benefits to the very top earners, including Trump himself, is just the thing to “unite the party.” And who knows, maybe, just maybe, swing voters will not get snowed by the relatively meager cuts for lower earners,  or by Republican lies about the plan, into forgetting what it actually does, and it will become a real liability.

* James Hohmann has a comprehensive, well-reported look at why Democrats believe the tax plan will, in fact, be a big liability for Republicans next year.

* Renae Merle and Aaron Gregg talk to tax experts and learn that most taxpayers may not learn whether they get tax cuts until 2019 at the earliest. Which would seem to complicated the GOP’s grand strategy.

* A new CNN poll finds that 61 percent of Americans say Russian meddling is a serious matter that should be investigated, while only 34 percent say it’s about discrediting Trump. The nonstop claims that this is a “Dem hoax” are really working brilliantly!

* Natasha Bertrand considers the question of whether House Republicans who are vocally attacking the Mueller probe are coordinating with the White House.

* Mitch McConnell today broke with Paul Ryan and claimed “entitlement reform” is actually not on the agenda next year. And Ryan sobbed silently as he gazed up at the faded Ayn Rand poster he’s had since college.

* Lauren Gambino and Sabrina Siddiqui report on how Congress’ continued failure to protect the “dreamers,” who are in a terrible limbo, is playing among the dreamers themselves and the activists fighting for them.

* Ruth Ben-Ghiat examines Trump’s use of language as an example of how authoritarian strongmen employ it as a tool of manipulation and repression.

* Paul Waldman has a nice takedown of all the Republican attacks on the media for supposedly treating the GOP tax bill unfairly by describing it perfectly accurately.

* Philip Bump finds that out of the last 10 recent presidents, Trump is in last place in terms of the number of laws signed.

* E.J. Dionne has a nice column laying out how Democrats need to respond to the GOP tax heist, in ways small and large.

* And via Erik Wemple, behold what Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox and Friends,” after noting that the show was just ranked as highly influential by Mediaite:

“Congratulations to you, and I think influence and impact are important because we’re just trying to get our message out here and we appreciate the platform.”

I’m sure the White House really does appreciate the platform — a great deal.