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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

Sen. Chuck Schumer told NBC's Savannah Guthrie that the Supreme Court justices won't decide the 'Obamacare' case on the basis of some stumbles by the government's lawyer.

"Look, on the substance he had very good answers," Schumer said Sunday on Meet The Press. "And you know, drinking water, coughing, that's not going to affect these justices. They've been studying this case, and the precedents, and everything else for the last several months. They'll be studying it for the next several months. And it's the substance of the argument that matters."

Guthrie played a clip of U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli sounding less than eloquent in the oral arguments before asking Schumer if he was satisfied with his performance.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sought to assuage liberal fears Sunday, arguing that tough questioning from the Justices does not mean the Supreme Court will overturn the Affordable Care Act.

"You know, I've been on the Judiciary Committee for 30 years in the House and the Senate, and one thing I've learned, you can't tell by the questioning as to how the court is going to rule," he said on NBC's Meet The Press.

Schumer pointed to other cases where tough questioning belied the outcome.

"I would say this," he added later. "Anyone who judges how the court is going to rule based on the questions hasn't looked at the history of the questions before and then the results."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, said Sunday that Republicans have till date failed to offer an alternative to 'Obamacare.'

Appearing on ABC's This Week, Van Hollen discussed the problems in the health care system that the law seeks to address. "Our Republican friends said," he added, "when they voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act ... they were going to come up with a proposal to address all these other issues. As we gather here today, they haven't done that."

Various Republicans have indicated support for a deregulated market-based insurance system, but the party has not fleshed out a replacement plan.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that it's clear Mitt Romney will be the GOP's presidential nominee.

"I think he's going to be an excellent candidate, and I think the chances are overwhelming that he will be our nominee. It seems to me that we're in the final phases of wrapping up this nomination," he said on CNN's State of the Unino. "And most of the members of the Senate Republican Conference are either supporting him, or they have the view that I do that it's time to turn our attention to the fall campaign and begin to make the case against the president of the United States.

He ducked an opportunity to endorse Romney but said, "it's absolutely apparent that it's in the best interest of our party at this particular point to get behind the person who is obviously going to be our nominee."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday fielded off a question about how the gradually improving economy could impact the GOP's chances in the November elections.

"Well I certainly hope that we are seeing some signs of recovery," he said on CNN's State of the Union. "And there's a modest recovery apparently underway. What we do still have is 8.3 percent unemployment. What we have is an increase in the national debt of 43 percent under this president. Our national debt is now the size of the economy. That is not a prescription for a healthy economy long-term. Almost no one is predicting that we're going to get back to what most Americans consider a normal unemployment rate of around 5 and a half percent. So yes, we're encouraged that the economy seems to be gaining some momentum."

McConnell indicated that Republicans won't deny that a recovery is taking hold.

"So yeah, I think the economy is still going to be an issue in the fall," he added. "We're certainly pleased that there are some signs of growth."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday accused CNN's Candy Crowley of adopting Democratic talking points in a question about oil industry tax loopholes.

"Senator," she said on State of the Union, "just in terms of the fairness issue, which you know is very important to Americans, and to politicians, one hopes, the oil companies are making record profits and yet taxpayers are paying for these loophopes for oil companies, which are basically tax breaks. And so, just on the face of it sir, it certainly does seem to a lot of Americans that people who are making record profits shouldn't be taking taxes that we're paying on April 15 to get their tax breaks."

The Republican senator responded, "Well, you know, with all due respect Candy, you're using all the Democratic talking points, and that's all quite interesting and it polls well, but ... the issue is the price of gas at the pump. If you raise taxes on the producers, you drive the prices even higher."

In the middle of McConnell's answer, Crowley interjected, "Well I use the Republican ones for a Democrat."

Brave or politically suicidal?

For the second year in a row, Republicans voted Thursday to effectively dismantle Medicare -- this time, just over seven months before a presidential election. And Democrats are salivating at the political opportunity, eager to hang the vote around the neck of the party's presidential nominee and its candidates in tough congressional races.

"A year ago, nobody was talking about Democrats having a shot at the House. Now we're talking about it," a Democratic leadership aide told TPM after the vote, a party-line 228-191 that didn't win a single Dem.

Read More →

Justice Antonin Scalia's misgivings about President Obama's health care law were evident to all observers during this week's three days of Supreme Court arguments on its constitutionality.

But his skepticism went beyond probing questions about Congressional power and interstate commerce. At various points, the justice's questions echoed lines of attack you'd just as likely read on a conservative blog or in a Republican National Committee email blast.

Here are Scalia's top five Supreme Talking Points.

Read More →

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is poised to file cloture on Buffett Rule legislation today, and set up a vote for April 16, a Democratic leadership aide tells TPM.

President Obama championed the principle in his State of the Union address, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) subsequently introduced legislation, which sets a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for people making over $1 million.

The Republican-led House passed the Paul Ryan budget on a party line vote of 228-191.

No Democrats voted for the measure, and 10 Republicans defected.

The blueprint, which is seen as a nonstarter in the Senate, radically overhauls Medicare and could potentially spark off another government shutdown battle later this year.

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