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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

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told Sean Hannity Wednesday on his radio show that House Republicans intend to continue targeting Obamacare.

He explained that House Republicans did not go after the law in their must-pass legislation to keep the government open because that "would risk shutting down the government. That is not our goal. Our goal is to cut spending."

"Do you want to risk the full faith and credit of the United States over defunding Obamacare?" Boehner said. "That's a very tough argument to make."

Boehner's remarks shoot down calls by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other conservatives to threaten a government shutdown if Democrats insist on funding Obamacare in its entirety.

Senate Republicans tried and failed Wednesday to attach an amendment to stopgap government funding legislation that would have defunded the Affordable Care Act -- the 34th GOP attempt to dismantle the legislation.

The Senate moved forward Wednesday morning with stopgap legislation to fund the government past March 27 -- similar to that passed by the House.

The chamber proceeded to open debate on the bill after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) dropped his objection. Two amendments are set to be voted on, one of which strips funding for implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who crafted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of the 2010 financial reform law and initially helped lead it, excoriated Republicans on Tuesday for refusing to confirm a nominee to lead the agency.

"From the way I see how other agencies are treated, I see nothing here but a filibuster threat against Director Cordray as an attempt to weaken the consumer agency," she said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the CFPB nomination. "I think the delay in getting him confirmed is bad for consumers, it's bad for small banks, it's bad for credit unions, it's bad for anyone trying to offer an honest product in an honest market.

"The American people," Warren said, "deserve a Congress that worries less about helping big banks and more about helping regular people who have been cheated on mortgages, on credit cards, on student loans, on credit records."

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New legislation to keep the government funded past March 27 hit a snag Tuesday afternoon when Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) placed a hold on beginning debate, essentially threatening to filibuster the bill. It appears unlikely to sink the bipartisan legislation, though.

"He wants to read the bill," Coburn spokesman John Hart told TPM.

On the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) backed up Coburn's call to withhold support for beginning debate on the legislation. "We just need a little more time to get through the entire bill," McCain said.

"I just learned ... that, who else, Coburn, won't let us move with the bill," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters Tuesday. "So unless something happens in that regard, we're going to have to use the new rules we have where [Mitch] McConnell and I can move forward ourselves. Or I'm going to have to file cloture."

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In an attempt to draw a sharp contrast with House Republicans, Senate Democrats on Tuesday revealed important details of their own upcoming budget resolution -- their first in four years -- which represents a return to the negotiating position President Obama adopted after his re-election in November.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) praised the budget unveiled Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and emphasized in a statement that it seeks to balance federal spending and revenues within a decade.

“We owe it to the American people to balance the federal budget -- and Republicans have a plan to do it in 10 years. Our balanced budget is focused on growing our economy and expanding opportunities for all Americans. It cuts government waste, fixes our broken tax code to help create new jobs and increase wages for working families, repairs the safety net for struggling Americans, and protects and strengthens important priorities like Medicare and defense.

“I want to thank Chairman Ryan and all of the Republicans on the House Budget Committee for their work on putting together this balanced budget, and I would encourage President Obama and Senate Democrats to follow our lead. Washington’s long-time failure to address our country’s long-term challenges has been a stain on both parties. We can start setting things right by balancing the budget, and handing our children a booming economy instead of a mountain of debt.”

At his budget rollout Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) declined to pinpoint which tax loopholes he would use to make his large tax cuts revenue neutral, when asked about the argument that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class to achieve his targets.

"This is what the Ways and Means Committee is going to do," he said. "As you probably know, the Ways and Means Committee has set up working groups. The Ways and Means Committee is doing hearing after hearing going through the tax code and trying to figure out a better tax system. Our goal is to have a two bracket system that actually is pro-growth. And what that means is closing down loopholes, maintaining important ones -- that we're going to have hearings on to find out which ones are the more important ones for middle income taxpayers.

"You can actually plug loopholes and subject more of higher earners' income to taxation through a lower tax rate. We think that's smarter."

On the floor Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) railed against the new budget plan released by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and questioned its arithmetic.

"The Paul Ryan budget 3.0 uses the same fuzzy math as his previous two budgets," Reid said. "It relies on accounting that is creative at best and fraudulent at worst to inflate its claims of deficit reduction."

He described it as "extreme," unbalanced and containing the "same skewed policies" that help the wealthy at the expensive of the middle class.

Today House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan will unveil an extreme budget that is anything but balanced. This budget reflects the same skewed priorities the Republican Party has championed for years – the same skewed priorities Americans rejected in November. The Ryan Republican budget will call for more tax breaks for the wealthy, an end to Medicare as we know it and draconian cuts to education and other programs that help America’s economy grow and prosper.

As Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” We’ve seen this show before. The Ryan Republican budget will shower more tax breaks on millionaires and continue to tilt the playing field to the advantage of big corporate interests, while raising taxes for the middle class. And, like last year, the plan refuses to close a single tax loophole in order to reduce the deficit.

Meanwhile it guts investments in education, health care, public safety, scientific research and job-creating clean energy technology. The Ryan Republican budget would end the Medicare guarantee and force seniors into a voucher program. It would ax preventive health care such as cancer screenings and charge seniors more for prescriptions. And it would further reduce funding for food inspectors, police officers and first responders. ...

In a press conference Tuesday rolling out his new budget plan, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was asked why he includes the Medicare cuts from the Affordable Care Act which he has repeatedly criticized.

"Let me make it really clear. What we do in this budget is we stop the raid of Medicare," he said. "You have to remember, President Obama took money from Medicare to spend on creating Obamacare. We end that raid and we make sure all of those dollars go back to Medicare to extend the solvency of the trust fund."

The House budget chief admitted that the new "revenue line" as a result of the ACA "makes it easier" to balance the budget.

He emphasized that his budget plan seeks to repeal the rest of Obamacare.

 

The Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act have put Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in a bind that he cannot seem to escape. One minute the House budget chief decries them as unacceptable and damaging to the elderly, the next he preserves the same cuts in his own plans.

Ryan has been back and forth on the cuts, decrying them when "Obamacare" passed, then including them in his House-passed budget plans in 2011 and 2012, then campaigning against them in the 2012 election, and now backing them again in his new budget plan set to be released later today. The short version is that when he's campaigning, Ryan opposes the Medicare cuts, but when faced with budgeting, he can't quit them.

Here's a timeline of his evolving positions.

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