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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 Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), a champion the Bowles-Simpson deficit plan, on Wednesday attacked Paul Ryan for using the fiscal commission as a political weapon against President Obama after helping ensure its defeat.

"My friend Paul Ryan talks about fiscal responsibility, but voted to put two wars on the credit card. He voted to spend trillions of dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. He voted for a prescription drug benefit with no plan to pay for it. He abandoned the bipartisan principle that we must pay for what we buy," Hoyer said at the Democratic convention. "And he voted against the balanced deficit reduction plan produced by a bipartisan commission—a fact, by the way, that he didn't tell us in his speech last week."

He said that while Democrats tried to fix the economy, "Republicans unfortunately played politics" and rooted for Obama to fail.

"Let's review the history," he said. "Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said that Republicans' number one priority was the defeat of President Obama. Not the defeat of terrorism, not the creation of jobs, not the reduction of our deficit and debt, not ensuring access to health care, not educating our children. But to simply defeat our president."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday night said the election is in large part a referendum on Medicare.

"Democrats will preserve and strengthen Medicare. Republicans will end the Medicare guarantee," she said at the Democratic convention. "It's just plain wrong. When you go to the polls, vote for Medicare. Vote for President Obama!"

She warned that Republicans might also try to fundamentally alter Social Security if elected: "Social Security is on the ballot. Democrats enacted it. Democrats will fight to preserve it. Some Republicans want to replace the guarantee of Social Security with the gamble of private accounts. It's just plain wrong. When you go to the polls, vote for Social Security. Vote for President Obama!"

At the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, the White House dispatched its top health official to make the case against the Romney-Ryan plan to convert Medicare into a voucher-like system.

But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attacked the plan with a claim based on an outmoded analysis.

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Democrats have run from health care ever since the Affordable Care Act passed in March 2010, fearful of being burned by a political firestorm. At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte Tuesday night, they weren't running.

The opening night of the convention featured an aggressive embrace of the party's most consequential achievement in a generation, from an emotional clip package highlighting the benefits of the law for Americans with pre-existing conditions to speeches emphatically endorsing the bill that Republicans derisively dubbed "Obamacare."

"For us Democrats, Obamacare is a badge of honor," said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services. "No matter who you are, what stage of life you're in, this law is a good thing."

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The opening night of the Democratic convention included a video tribute to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and his accomplishments -- one of which was socking it to Mitt Romney.

The most crowd-pleasing parts of the seven-minute video Tuesday night featured snippets of debates from the 1994 contest for U.S. Senate between Kennedy and Romney, which were notably unflattering for the now-Republican nominee for president.

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During the opening night of the Democratic convention, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid again swung at Mitt Romney for refusing to release more tax returns.

"When you look at the one tax return he has released it's obvious why. It's obvious why there's only been one. We learned that he pays a lower tax rate than middle-class families; we learned that he chose Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island tax shelters over American institutions," Reid said Tuesday. "We could only imagine what new secrets would be revealed if he showed the American people a dozen years of tax returns -- like his father did."

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Appearing on CNN during the opening night of the Democratic convention, retiring longtime Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) argued that his party was willing to help President Bush weather the 2008 economic crisis -- unlike Republicans, who he said refused to lift a finger to assist President Obama when he needed them.

"The problem there is that assumes even if he wasn't doing health care, the Republicans would have been less obstructive on jobs. I'm afraid that's not the case," said the congressman, when asked if President Obama squandered too much capital on health care reform.

"Unfortunately, from the very beginning -- look, look at the contrast. George Bush came to us on the Democratic side in late '08 and said, we're in a crisis, we need your help -- and we gave it to him, very openly, very fully. Then Obama comes in to try to deal with the terrible situation he inherited from bush and the republican media went into full partisan attack. [Senate Republican Leader] Mitch McConnell announcing his number one goal was to defeat the president. I don't think in the end the timing, unfortunately, would have helped a great deal." 

At the Democratic convention Tuesday night, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attacked Mitt Romney's plan to convert Medicare into a sort of voucher system.

"What's missing from the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare is Medicare," she said. "The president agrees there should be no vouchers."

President Obama, she concluded, "has earned four more years."

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius opened her speech Tuesday night at the Democratic convention with a full-fledged defense of "Obamacare."

"For us Democrats, Obamacare is a badge of honor," she said.

She added: "Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. Now that's what change looks like."

The Democratic Party's 2012 platform calls for future deficit reduction to exclusively come from tax hikes on wealthy individuals and businesses, implying the party's willingness to open negotiations with Republicans by agreeing to cut spending on social programs unconditionally is over.

"We support allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire and closing loopholes and deductions for the largest corporations and the highest-earning taxpayers," the platform reads. "We are committed to reforming our tax code so that it is fairer and simpler, creating a tax code that lives up to the Buffett Rule so no millionaire pays a smaller share of his or her income in taxes than middle class families do."

The corollary to this message: no more spending cuts.

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