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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

Mitt Romney used to boast that his Massachusetts health care law should serve as a model for national health reform. After President Obama took that advice, and opposing the Affordable Care Act became an essential criterion for membership in the Republican Party, Romney executed a hairpin turn and began describing his reforms as uniquely suited to Massachusetts -- not the whole country -- if even that.

At the first presidential debate Wednesday night, he came full circle.

"What we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation, state by state," he said.

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In repeatedly denying during Wednesday's night debate that his proposed 20 percent across-the-board tax cut would cut government revenues by $5 trillion over 10 years, Mitt Romney stopped short of providing his own figure for how much the proposal would cost the Treasury.

Asked by TPM what the accurate cost of Romney's tax rate cuts would be, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul dodged: "His tax reform proposal is revenue-neutral," she said.

So it has gone throughout the campaign. Neither Romney nor his campaign nor his economic advisers have ever specified the cost in lost revenue of his sweeping tax cut proposal.

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The automatic federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect early next year could result in the loss of over 1.4 million jobs in 2013, according to a new study (PDF) by Congress' nonpartisan policy analyst.

The $48 billion in defense spending cuts are projected to result in 907,000 fewer direct, indirect and induced jobs in government and the private sector next year, the Congressional Research Service report said. The $10.7 billion in Medicare reimbursement cuts to providers are projected to cost 500,000 jobs, less than half of which are direct losses, in 2013.

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Under pressure to provide more details about his tax reform proposal, Mitt Romney floated an idea Tuesday to help fill a revenue hole in his plan.

"As an option you could say everybody's going to get up to a $17,000 deduction; and you could use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others -- your healthcare deduction. And you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $17,000 bucket that way," Romney told a Fox affiliate in Denver. "And higher income people might have a lower number."

In other words, cap the total amount individuals can benefit from tax loopholes.

But while some tax policy experts like the idea in principle it suffers from at least one big political problem: though it would hit high net-worth people hardest, it would still require raising taxes on some middle class Americans to cover the cost of his proposal to cut everyone's tax rates by 20 percent.

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Mitt Romney's health care platform would leave 72 million Americans without insurance by the year 2022, according to a new study by the Commonwealth Fund. President Obama's approach, the researchers found, would mean 27.1 million are uninsured.

The study illustrates a stark contrast between the two candidates' health care platforms. The projections are derived by contrasting the impacts of Obama's plan to implement the Affordable Care Act with Romney's promise to repeal it and scale back Medicaid. (Romney's proposed Medicare changes would only take effect after 2022.)

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Virginia lawyer and retired Army Col. Wayne Powell was on a mission in Monday night's debate -- to fire as many rhetorical shots at Eric Cantor in his longshot bid to unseat the House majority leader.

Cantor was defending his seat in a debate for just the second time since being elected to Congress in 2000. The Democratic nominee is running his first political campaign, hoping to represent a heavily Republican district, against the House's No. 2 lawmaker.

Speaking loudly and gesticulating heavily, at times as though he was rallying a crowd, Powell cast himself as a pragmatic problem-solver aiming to unseat an ideologue who has been bought by wealthy special interests.

"It is almost obscene, the millions of dollars you have earned [from big corporations]," Powell said, raising his voice. "You've got a person who supports the very barbarians, the very parasites who caused the meltdown in this country in 2008."

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Tired of calling on Mitt Romney to flesh out what tax loopholes he would close to pay for his large tax cuts, President Obama has taken a new tack: warn middle class voters of the worst, and goad the Republican nominee into proving him wrong.

It's a lose-lose proposition for Romney, who is trailing Obama in key battleground states with Election Day just weeks away, because any answer would invite further criticism.

In separate campaign trail speeches late last week, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden implied that Romney would raise taxes on middle class homeowners and Social Security recipients to cover the cost of his promised across-the-board 20 percent cut in income tax rates.

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On the Sunday talk shows, Team Romney sent conflicting messages about the upcoming presidential debate on Wednesday night, both downplaying the debate's importance and promising a stellar performance by Mitt Romney that will reshape the race.

The campaign's dueling narratives show the tricky place the Romney campaign finds itself in; Romney needs to show he can turn the race around, but also needs to avoid the dangers of setting the bar too high.

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Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," White House senior adviser David Plouffe continued to lower expectations for President Obama's debate performance on Wendesday night.

"Challengers tend to do really well in debates," he said. "That's been the history. We've believed all along that Governor Romney probably has more benefit out of this debate, potentially, than we do."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Sunday that Republicans ought not to support Todd Akin, the GOP nominee for Senate in Missouri, who made headlines with his recent remarks about "legitimate rape."

"No," Christie said on ABC's "This Week," when asked if he thinks Akin deserves GOP support. "No, I don't." 

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