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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

On CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said the upcoming Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race is a "test run" for the Democratic election machine in presidential battleground states.

The following is her exchange with Candy Crowley, who asked her about the national implications of the recall.

CROWLEY: If the Republican governor should retain his seat up there, what will it say about the power of unions who have been fighting him and what will it say about putting Wisconsin in play this fall?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I am going there Tuesday to campaign with Mayor Barrett. I think that he has a real opportunity to win. We have put our considerable grassroots resources behind him. All of the Obama for America and state party resources, our grassroots network is fully...

CROWLEY: But are there national implications?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... engaged. And -- well, I think what's going to happen is that because of our on-the-ground operation, we have had an opportunity in this election, because especially given that Wisconsin is a battleground state, just like we did in the recall elections a year ago, to give this a test run.

And so what I think the implications will be is that ultimately I think Tom Barrett will pull this out, but regardless it has given the Obama for America operation an opportunity to do...

CROWLEY: Test run it.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... the dry run that we need of our massive, significant, dynamic grassroots presidential campaign, which can't really be matched by the Romney campaign or the Republicans because they've ignored on the ground operations.

In remarkably colorful terms, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) on Sunday lashed out at members of his party for their unyielding opposition to new tax revenues, whom he described as stymieing a debt reduction agreement.

"I guess I'm known as a RINO now, which means a Republican in name only, because, I guess, of social views, perhaps, or common sense would be another one, which seems to escape members of our party," said Simpson, a co-chair of President Obama's fiscal commission, on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

"For heaven's sake, you have Grover Norquist wandering the earth in his white robes saying that if you raise taxes one penny, he'll defeat you," he added. "He can't murder you. He can't burn your house. The only thing he can do to you, as an elected official, is defeat you for reelection. And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we're in extremity, you shouldn't even be in Congress."

Read More →

On his HBO show "Real Time," comedian Bill Maher took on the conservative argument that President Obama has radically changed the United States.

"Obama spent most of last year conceding the Republican premise that government needed cutting. That's not what progressives wanted, that's what the tea party wanted," Maher said Friday night. "..If he's a socialist, he's a lousy one."

“How can you guys be so unhappy with Obama when I’m so unhappy with Obama?" he added. "You think you got coal in your stocking? I wanted single payer health care, a carbon emissions bill, gun control and legalized pot. If you get to carry around all this outrage over me getting that shit, shouldn't I have gotten it?”

Maher recently donated $1 million to Obama's reelection campaign.

Watch the segment below, courtesy of Mediaite

Robert Gibbs, a senior campaign adviser to President Obama, predicted Sunday that the Supreme Court will uphold the Affordable Care Act.

"I don't know what the impact would be on either side [if the court were to strike it down]," he said on CBS' Face The Nation. "I think that if one listens to the full argument that was made in front of the Supreme Court, that they're likely to uphold the health care law."

Gibbs said upholding the law would be especially important for those with pre-existing condition.

A ruling is expected by the end of June.

Conservative columnist George Will criticized Donald Trump with colorful language on Sunday when asked on ABC's "This Week" whether it helps Mitt Romney to ally with the billionaire real estate mogul.

"I do not understand the cost-benefit here," Will said. "The costs are clear. The benefits -- what voter is going to vote for him because he's seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious, it seems to me. Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low, and you can still intrude into American politics."

"But again -- I don't understand the benefit. What is Romney seeking?" he added.

Trump recently re-erected his thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the U.S. 

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Sunday that veterans' benefits are protected under the automatic defense spending cuts enacted in last year's bipartisan debt limit agreement.

"Sequestration is something that all of us have to be concerned about. We've got some real big decisions coming at us," Murray told CNN's State of the Union. "We believe that veterans' benefits are protected under that, as they should be."

The 10-year automatic cuts -- dubbed "sequestration" -- are set to go into effect January 2013. Although both parties say they want to avoid that scenario, Democrats and Republicans are battling over what to replace them with.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) released a statement Sunday in honor of Memorial Day.

"Memorial Day is an important opportunity to thank our brave men and women in uniform and pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives defending our country. It is their sacrifice that has kept America strong and reminds us that we must remain vigilant to protect our freedom. Last weekend, I was proud to honor our troops and their families at the first-ever Welcome Home Our Heroes parade in Richmond. The community came together to show our appreciation for our veterans and make sure they receive the care and support they need, and today we come together as a nation in that same spirit."

Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said Sunday that the DNC is putting considerable resources in the race to help Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett defeat Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

We have "put our considerable grassroots resources behind him -- all of the Obama For America and state party resources," she told CNN's State of the Union. "Our grassroots network is fully engaged."

As a result, she said, Barrett has a "real opportunity to win."

The DNC has faced criticism from Wisconsin Democrats for not investing enough in the race, which progressives and conservatives believe could have important national implications.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Sunday brushed off Mitt Romney's criticism of Obama administration policy on Afghanistan, dismissing it as "campaign rhetoric."

Here's the exchange between Panetta and Jake Tapper on ABC's "This Week."

JAKE TAPPER: Mitt Romney’s had this to say about the president’s Afghan strategy and the date certain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You just scratch your head and say how can you be so misguided?  And so naïve?  His secretary of defense said that on a date certain, the middle of 2013, we’re going to pull out our combat troops from Afghanistan. Why in the world do you go to the people that you’re fighting with and tell them the day you’re pulling out your troops?  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  Now, first of all, there’s a factual error that Mr. Romney made that I’m sure you want to correct, but the larger point about giving a date certain for the withdrawal or the end of the combat mission, could you address that as well after you correct him?

(LAUGHTER)

PANETTA:  Well, Okay.  You know, I think without getting into the campaign rhetoric of what he’s asserting, I think you’ve got 50 nations in NATO that agree to a plan in Afghanistan.  It’s the Lisbon agreement, an agreement that, you know, others, President Bush, President Obama, everyone has agreed is the direction that we go in in Afghanistan.

What is that direction?  It’s to take us to a point where we draw down by the end of 2014.  

That is the plan that has been agreed to.  And it’s a plan that is working.

And very frankly, the only way to get this accomplished in terms of the transition that we have to go through is to be able to set the kind of timelines that have been set here in order to ensure that we fulfill the mission of an Afghanistan that governs and secures itself.  That’s what this is about.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a Sunday interview that he's perplexed Pakistan would punish the doctor who helped the U.S. find Osama bin Laden.

Here's the exchange between Panetta and ABC's Jake Tapper on ABC's "This Week."

PANETTA:  It’s - it is so difficult to understand and it’s so disturbing that they would sentence this doctor to 33 years for helping in the search for the most notorious terrorist in our times.  This doctor was not working against Pakistan.

He was working against Al Qaeda.  And I hope that ultimately Pakistan understands that, because what they have done here, I think, you know, does not help in the effort to try to reestablish a relationship between the United States and Pakistan.

TAPPER:  Secretary Panetta, can we call Pakistan an ally when they do something like this, when they sentence a doctor who helps the United States find bin Laden, who has killed more Muslims than I can count?  How can we call them an ally when they sentence this guy to prison? 

PANETTA:  Well, Jake, this has been one of the most complicated relationships that we’ve had, working with Pakistan.  You know, we have to continue to work at it.  It is important.  This is a country that has - that has nuclear weapons.

This is a country that still is critical in that region of the world.  It’s an up-and-down relationship.  There have been periods where we’ve had good cooperation and they have worked with us.

And there have been periods where we’ve had conflict.  But they’re dealing with the terrorist threat just like we are.

So our responsibility here is to keep pushing them to understand how important it is for them to work with us to try to deal with the common threats we both face.  And what they did with this doctor doesn’t help in the effort to try to do that.

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