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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 Democrats are working to shatter the GOP's central argument in the tax battle -- that unlike Democrats, they oppose raising taxes on anyone.

"It turns out that's simply false," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Tuesday. "That's because buried deep inside Senator Hatch's proposal are three back-breaking tax hikes on middle class families. They're actually willing to increase taxes on the middle class."

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry's (R) office responded late Tuesday to TPM's article on his administration's slow-walking of an Affordable Care Act provision, a move that could potentially turn over the authority to the federal government.

In an email, Perry's spokesperson Allison Castle says Texas is merely seeking to be "thorough, complete, and accurate" in reviewing its insurance company practices, although she doesn't clarify whether the state will honor the Affordable Care Act statute, which the governor has been reluctant to do.

Castle writes:

Texas conducts rate reviews independent of the creation of a healthcare insurance exchange, and does so in a way that creates regulatory certainty. To say that Texas is “biding its time” on rate reviews in inaccurate. When insurance companies file rates they are very rarely, if ever, complete filings. The rate filing is really the beginning of the process for TDI to conduct its rate review.  It is much better for our regulatory agency to be thorough, complete, and accurate in its rate review than it is to be quick.

Rate reviews in Texas are determined by whether a rate is actuarially sound, whereas the standard under Obamacare is an arbitrary “unreasonable” determination that does not provide clarity or certainty to the marketplace.

Gov. Rick Perry's persistent refusal to implement 'Obamacare' in the name of states' rights might further endear him to the GOP base. But if states' rights is the goal, his strategy is counterproductive as it's providing the Obama administration more power over Texas.

The latest chapter in this story, as NPR reports, is Perry slow-walking the law's probe of insurance company rate hikes, known as rate review. The move could similarly turn over his administration's authority to police insurance company practices to the federal government.

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House Republicans have sidelined -- at least for now -- legislation that repeals the Obama administration's contraception coverage guarantee and makes cuts to funding for women's health programs. A committee markup initially anticipated for this week won't happen, nor are GOP leaders certain it will come to the floor at all.

The sweeping bill, which last week passed the Appropriations subcommittee on labor and health, offered a political opportunity for Democrats to hammer away at the GOP's deep cuts to domestic programs, leaving them upset that the markup is now in limbo.

"I am deeply disappointed that we will not have a public discussion of Chairman Rehberg's vision for implementing the Romney-Ryan Budget," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the subcommittee's top Democrat, in a statement Monday. "This bill was bad for women, bad for children, bad for the most vulnerable among us and bad for middle-class Americans."

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Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) campaign is fundraising off an anonymous conservative blogger's failed attempt to sandbag his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist and author Connie Schultz.

The freshman senator is fending off a challenge from Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, who he leads by a 46-41 point margin, according to the TPM PollTracker Average. The gap has recently narrowed.

In an email to supporters titled "Our family scandal" from the Brown campaign, Schultz's 25-year-old daughter, Caitlin Schultz Gard, recounted the tale of the blogger's recent email to her mother, who formerly wrote for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, inquiring why she appeared to be hugging the senator in a photo, apparently for a story on reporters getting too close to the politicians they cover.

Connie Schultz's response to the blogger, who she preferred not to name when contacted by TPM: "I am surprised you did not find a photo of me kissing U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown so hard he passes out from lack of oxygen. He's really cute. He's also my husband. You know that, right?"

In the fundraising email, Caitlin Schultz Gard wrote:

Go, Mom. Fierce, funny, and direct is the only way to keep these conservative bloggers in their place.

Unfortunately, most of the attacks coming Sherrod's way in this campaign are much less true, and much less funny.

Sherrod knows he'll always have us by his side when things get tough. But I know how much he leans on all of you as well. So I want to say thanks for helping us get his back.

By the way, Mom never heard back from that conservative blogger. But we'd always love to hear from you -- especially if you can help the campaign fight back against all these outrageous attacks.


The last line of the email included a link at which to donate to Brown's campaign.

Former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce wrote a missive Saturday highlighting the collective failure of the victims of the Aurora, Colo. massacre to stop the shooter who left 12 people dead and nearly 60 wounded in a movie theater.

The outspoken conservative -- known for his ardent pro-gun and anti-illegal-immigration views -- later sought to clarify that he was merely blaming gun control laws.

Early Saturday morning, the former Republican lawmaker took to Facebook to mourn the victims. He then wondered why none were "[b]rave" enough to stop the atrocity.

"Where were the men of flight 93???? Someone should have stopped this man," he wrote. "...All that was needed is one Courages/Brave man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this it could have been done."

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The conservative group Americans For Prosperity may have taken a step that eventually forces it to reveal its donor base, which has so far remained anonymous thanks to federal law, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

But after it became involved in a Nevada Senate race last month, a state law could mean the Koch-funded group loses its ability to avail of federal protections against disclosure. Democrats are said to be pressing the issue.

The Sun reports:

In a complaint filed Thursday, the Nevada Democratic Party asked Secretary of State Ross Miller to investigate whether the nonprofit organization must report the contributions it received to fund mailers attacking state Senate candidate Kelvin Atkinson, a Democratic assemblyman from North Las Vegas.

Under federal law, political nonprofits such as AFP can escape disclosure requirements by not including words such as “vote for” or “defeat” in political messaging.

Under state law, it doesn’t matter whether those words are used or not.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday demanded that the two candidates for president step up and explain how they intend to avoid future tragedies like the horrific shootings in Aurora, Colo.

"This really is an enormous problem for the country, and it's up to these two presidential candidates," he said on CBS' "Face The Nation." "They want to lead this country and they've said things before that they're in favor of banning things like assault weapons. Where are they now, and why don't they stand up? If they want our votes, they better."

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In the wake of the horrific Aurora, Colo. shooting, one of the few vocal proponents of gun control in Congress this week plans to advance a bill to crack down on high-capacity ammunition clips.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) will advance legislation this week to ban the sale of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition at a time, his office confirms to TPM, as was first reported by the Huffington Post.

"[H]e will be pushing it this week," Lautenberg's spokesman Caley Gray said in an email.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Sunday downplayed the relevance of gun laws to the Aurora, Colo. massacre that left a dozen people dead and at least 58 wounded.

"Everything should be looked at, but to think that somehow gun control is -- or increased gun control is -- the answer, in my view that would have to be proved," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

The senator said gun-rights advocates "would be glad to have a conversation." But "to somehow lead to the conclusion that this was somehow caused by the fact that we don't have more gun control legislation -- I don't think it's been proved."

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