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Sahil Kapur

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.

Articles by Sahil

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell isn't sticking his neck out this time.

The Kentucky Republican has previously stepped in at the last minute to save House Republicans from themselves in desperate moments like this -- during the 2011 debt limit near-crisis and the year-end debacle over extending the payroll tax cut. But now, with the fiscal cliff right around the corner, he's laying low and steering clear of trouble, eager not to be seen as disrupting any progress but signaling no intention of swooping in to save the day again.

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The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to temporarily block the Obama administration's contraception mandate while the courts work through the case.

In a four-page opinion issued late Wednesday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor declared that the Hobby Lobby and Mardel, two retail outlets suing to block the requirement, do not meet the high standard for emergency injunctive relief.

"Applicants do not satisfy the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief they seek," wrote Sotomayor, the justice primarily responsible for cases in the Tenth Circuit where it's pending. She reasoned that the plaintiffs' right to immediate relief is not "indisputably clear" and that they cannot demonstrate the necessity of an injunction.

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America is headed over the fiscal cliff, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared on Thursday morning, blaming Speaker John Boehner.

"The American people are waiting for the ball to drop, but it's not going to be a good drop. Because Americans' taxes are approaching the wrong direction," he said on the Senate floor. "Come the first of this year, Americans will have less income than they have today. If we go over the cliff, and it looks like that's where we're headed, the House of Representatives -- as we speak with four days left after today before the first of the year -- aren't here. ... I can't imagine their consciences."

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According to CNN and a Facebook post Thursday afternoon, by Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), President Obama is expected to send congressional leaders a scaled-back proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff. But Democrats plugged in to the negotiations say that's false.

"While we're expecting Democrats to finally act, I don't have a specific timeframe," a GOP source familiar with the matter told TPM, neither confirming nor denying the reports.

Update: TPM has learned that reports that the White House is about to send an offer to Capitol Hill are not accurate, or at best an exaggerated read-out of GOP discussions with President Obama.

Update II: An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also tells TPM the reports are "not true."

When lawmakers vow to make sure middle class taxes don't rise by a penny, there's one thing they're invariably ignoring. Working Americans are poised to face a tax hike next year no matter the outcome of fiscal cliff negotiations.

Employees' share of the Social Security payroll tax is set to rise by 2 percentage points in 2013 after being lowered to 4.2 percent for two years. President Obama and Speaker John Boehner are at an impasse in fiscal cliff talks, but they've effectively agreed to end the payroll tax holiday.

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Updated: 6:15 ET

Seemingly unable to unite their members around a fiscal cliff compromise, House Republican leaders demanded Wednesday that "the Senate first must act" on House legislation to avert the mix of tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect in January.

After a private conference call among themselves, the House's top four Republicans -- Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) -- put out a joint statement in the afternoon.

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When debt limit negotiations between Speaker John Boehner and President Obama collapsed in the summer of 2011, Mitch McConnell stepped in and struck a deal to avert default. Half a year later, when the two sides were at an impasse on how to extend the payroll tax cut, the Senate minority leader again intervened and gave Republicans an escape route.

Now, with just a week left before massive tax hikes and spending cuts take effect, the president and speaker are again at a stalemate, and the country is headed for the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1. McConnell's masterful strategic mind is built for moments like these. But will he intervene? For now, he's not giving any indication of it, saying it's up to Obama to find a solution.

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Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his leadership team said in a Wednesday statement that the House will take action on the fiscal cliff once the Senate acts on House-passed legislation to avert the austerity measures.

After a private conference call with GOP leaders, he put out this afternoon statement, co-signed by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).

"The House has acted on two bills which collectively would avert the entire fiscal cliff if enacted.  Those bills await action by the Senate.  If the Senate will not approve and send them to the president to be signed into law in their current form, they must be amended and returned to the House.  Once this has occurred, the House will then consider whether to accept the bills as amended, or to send them back to the Senate with additional amendments.  The House will take this action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act.  The lines of communication remain open, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to avert the largest tax hike in American history, and to address the underlying problem, which is spending."

Mitt Romney's eldest son Tagg Romney told the Boston Globe that his father had "no desire" to run for president again 2012 but was persuaded by his family to do so.

“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” he said. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside. He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them, but he has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn’t love the attention.”

Romney spent $45 million of his own money on his 2012 bid. 

Here's how the Globe described the former governor's mindset, as per Tagg's remarks:

More than being reticent, Romney was at first far from sold on a second presidential run. Haunted by his 2008 loss, he initially told his family he would not do it. While candidates often try to portray themselves as reluctant, Tagg insisted his father’s stance was genuine.

According to the article and other reports before the election, Tagg Romney clashed with his father's chief strategist Stuart Stevens over the direction of the campaign. Tagg reportedly wanted to highlight anecdotes of Mitt Romney's acts of kindness, but other top strategists were skeptical.

Read the Globe's post-mortem of the Romney campaign here.

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