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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

While conservative activists are circling their wagons around Mitt Romney and encouraging him to stand by his claim that the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes are essentially mooching off the government, prominent policy voices on the right are dismayed by his comments -- both because they're inaccurate, and because they cut against fundamental conservative causes.

Romney argued that the 47 percent -- of which three-fifths pay payroll taxes and one-fifth are seniors -- represent President Obama's core base. "The story is complicated, and it doesn't line up well with the dependency story Romney seemed to have in mind," wrote Reiham Salam at National Review. "As an explanation for electoral trends, though, this theory doesn't hold up," wrote Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloomberg View, pointing out that many low-income Americans vote Republican.

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Under fire from Mitt Romney for being too lenient with China's questionable trade practices, President Obama issued a trade complaint to the World Trade Organization on Monday against the country's practice of subsidizing cars and auto parts for export.

The development, and Romney's reaction to it, perpetuate a theme that has characterized the campaign for months. Each candidate has scorched the other for supporting trade policies that harm American workers, though substantively it's hard to find daylight between the two on how they intend to deal with China tilting the playing field.

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There is no clear correlation between tax cuts for high earners and economic growth, according to a new study by Congress' nonpartisan policy analyst.

"There is not conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth," concluded a report by the Congressional Research Service released Friday. "Analysis of such data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth."

The findings are pertinent to a central debate in the presidential election, wherein President Obama is pushing to end the Bush-era tax cuts on high incomes, while his Republican challenger Mitt Romney insists on cutting rates across the board 20 percent below current policy. Democrats contrast the tax hikes of the 1990s and ensuing economic growth with the tax cuts of the 2000s and relatively meager gains that followed. Republicans, meanwhile, argue that the recovery is weak because the economy remains shackled by regulatory and tax burdens.

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Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the United States is not "impotent" -- but that it's also not powerless as violent anti-U.S. protests transpire in the Middle East.

Her exchange with ABC's Jake Tapper:

TAPPER:  Look at this map, if you would.  There have been protests around the world over the last several days.  And President Obama pledged to repair America's relationships with the Muslim world.  Why does the U.S. seem so impotent?  And why is the U.S. even less popular today in some of these Muslim and Arab countries than it was four years ago?

RICE:  Jake, we're not impotent.  We're not even less popular, to challenge that assessment.  I don't know on what basis you make that judgment.  But let me -- let me point...

TAPPER:  It just seems that the U.S. government is powerless as this -- as this maelstrom erupts.

RICE:  It's actually the opposite.  First of all, let's be clear about what transpired here.  What happened this week in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region... 

TAPPER:  Tunisia, Khartoum...

RICE:  ... was a result -- a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting.  We have also been very clear in saying that there is no excuse for violence, there is -- that we have condemned it in the strongest possible terms.

But let's look at what's happened.  It's quite the opposite of being impotent.  We have worked with the governments in Egypt.  President Obama picked up the phone and talked to President Morsi in Egypt.  And as soon as he did that, the security provided to our personnel in our embassies dramatically increased. 

Chief Justice John Roberts switched sides mid-way through deliberations to uphold 'Obamacare' after failing to find middle ground with conservatives, and in the process infuriated Justice Antonin Scalia, a new book concludes.

Excerpts from longtime court watcher Jeffrey Toobin's "The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court" leaked to Politico's Playbook jibe with earlier reports that the chief justice changed his mind as the ruling neared and became the deciding vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

Toobin writes: "[T]he tax argument stayed with the chief justice. In April and May, it started to become apparent to the other justices that Roberts was going 'wobbly' in his determination to overturn the law. Voters are never final until the decision are announced in open court. Votes at conference are by definition tentative. It is well within the bounds of acceptable behavior for justices to change their minds once opinions being circulating. Still, that rarely happens. But now, it appeared it was happening with Roberts -- in the most important case of his tenure as chief justice."

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Appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked if he believes President Obama and Mitt Romney are equally committed to preventing Iran from going nuclear.

"I have no doubt that they're equally committed to preventing that," he said. "It's a vital American interest. It's an existential interest in my case, so this isn't the issue. We're united on this across the board."

He repeatedly declined to address Romney's charge that Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.

"You're trying to get me into the American election and I'm not going to do that," he said. "There's no bus and we're not going to get into that discussion. ... The only bus that is really important is the Iranian nuclear bus. That's the one that we have to derail. And that's my interest -- that's my only interest."

Appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a football metaphor to describe his concerns about the Iranian nuclear program.

"They're in the red zone," he said. "You know, they're in the last 20 yards and you can't let them cross that goal line. You can't let them score a touchdown because that would have unbelievable consequences -- grievous consequences for the peace and security of us all, of the world really."

Netanyahu has called on the international community to establish a clear "red line" that Iran may not cross with regard to its uranium enrichment program.

"Once the Iranians understand that there's a line that they cannot cross, they're not likely to cross it," he said. "Iran has been placed with some clear red lines on a few matters, and they've avoided crossing them."

The Israeli leader said his nation would "threatened by annihilation" if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon.

Former Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell told a home state publication that she's considering a 2014 run for the seat she lost to now-Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) by a whopping 17-point margin.

“I think I owe that to my supporters, to at least consider a run,” O’Donnell told Delaware Online. “People sacrificed. Not only came out of their comfort zone -- sacrificed to work hard in order to win the primary. And I think that I owe it to them to give it every consideration.”

Delaware Online reports that O'Donnell is giving "serious thought" to a 2014 rematch.

(h/t HuffPost)

Conservative columnist George Will said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" roundtable that it's unfair to accuse President Obama of turning his back on Israel.

"I really do not think it's fair to fault the president for 'throwing Israel under the bus,' as they say," Will said. "Granted, he has a bad relationship with my good friend [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, but the relationships between the U.S. military and the Israeli military, which is 98 percent of the point of this relationship, are quite good."

Conservative columnist George Will dismissed the Romney campaign's suggestion that if the Republican nominee were president the recent violence in Libya that left four Americans dead would not have happened.

Asked on ABC's "This Week" if there's reason to believe that the situation would be different under a President Romney, Will said, "No."

"The great superstition of American politics concerns presidential power, and during a presidential year that reaches an apogee -- and it becomes national narcissism," he said. "Everything that happens anywhere in the world, we cause, or we could cure with ... presidential rhetoric."

Will also chided White House spokesman Jay Carney for pinpointing the anti-Muslim film as the cause of the violence: "If the video hadn't been the pretext, another one would've been found."

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