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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

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (PA), the most outspoken Democratic supporter of the GOP's effort to repeal the Medicare cost-cutting Independent Payment Advisory Board, tore into Republicans on Monday for proposing to pay for it with medical malpractice reform.

In a statement to TPM sent via a spokesperson, she warned that the "partisan" pay-for will cost the GOP Dem vote and guarantee defeat.

"Unfortunately, Republican Leadership is manipulating the dialogue on this issue for political purposes, which will undoubtedly lead many Democratic Members to vote against the bill – despite support for the underlying policy from House Democrats across the ideological spectrum," Schwartz told TPM. "By unnecessarily tying repeal of IPAB to a partisan malpractice bill, House Republicans have effectively ensured that this bill is dead. This is deeply disappointing."

Medical malpractice reform has long been a poison bill for Democrats and even some Republicans who want to leave malpractice damage caps to states.

 

 

House Republican leadership has opted to offset the $3.1 billion cost of repealing the Medicare cost-cutting Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) with Rep. Phil Gingrey's (R-GA) medical malpractice reform bill, an aide confirms.

The House is poised to vote on the bill next week.

The move runs the risk of alienating some of the Democrats -- and perhaps 10th Amendment Republicans -- who want to repeal IPAB but oppose federal caps on malpractice damage awards. But the legislation is widely expected to fail in the Democratic-led Senate either way.

What if "Obamacare" not only helped save Medicare from fiscal doom, but also quashed the GOP's longstanding goal of privatizing the program? It's too early to know what will ultimately happen, but new evidence suggests that nightmare scenario for conservatives is within the realm of possibility.

In a development with potentially profound implications -- both for Medicare itself and for the broader ideological fight between the two parties over the role of government -- researchers writing in the New England Journal of Medicine believe that the growth in per patient Medicare costs has slowed, contra earlier projections that spending would soar at an unsustainable rate. More importantly, the researchers believe this trend will hold over time, thanks largely to the Affordable Care Act's sweeping cost-control policies.

Read More →

Even as the jobs picture continues to improve steadily, the rise in gas prices is taking a toll on President Obama's approval rating on the economy, according to a new ABC/Washington Post poll.

Thirty-eight percent approve of his handling of the economy while 59 percent disapprove, the survey found. The same poll's numbers last month were 44 and 53, respectively.

Tellingly, the public said it disapproves of his handling of the "situation with gas prices" by a 65-26 margin.

A president cannot materially sway gas prices, which are set on the world market, but Americans tend to blame their president anyway when costs rise. Republicans have seized on this as a political weapon, and the White House is eager to fight back and make the case for Obama's energy policy.

Former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), who's running for his old House seat this year, crashed into a bus Saturday, according to the local WESH Orlando TV station.

Grayson, the local newscaster reported, was driving his Mercedes when he "ran a red light and slammed into [a] bus." Two passengers on the bus were injured and taken to the hospital, but are expected to recover, WESH reported, adding that police deemed Grayson at fault for the incident and will cite him. Grayson's car was significantly damaged.

The Orlando Sentinel adds that the passengers' injuries were "slight."

President Obama called Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday to express his "shock and sadness" over the tragic killings of 16 civilians at the hands of a U.S. soldier, and promise accountability, according to the White House.

The White House statement added:

President Obama extended his condolences to the people of Afghanistan, and made clear his Administration's commitment to establish the facts as quickly as possible and to hold fully accountable anyone responsible. The President reaffirmed our deep respect for the Afghan people and the bonds between our two countries.

Their Senate majority widely believed to be in peril this November, top Democrats are invoking favorable events of late to raise expectations for holding on to the chamber, expressing a bullishness about the prospect that has been previously unforeseen.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), asked Sunday if he believes his party will stay in control, responded, "I sure do."

"We feel really good," Reid said on CNN's State of the Union. "We've have some tremendous -- we've had some good fortune in North Dakota, in Massachusetts, in Nevada, in Arizona. We have good candidates all over. And I feel very comfortable about where we're going to wind up in November."

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President Obama said the killings of 16 civilians in Afghanistan at the hands of a U.S. soldier are "tragic" and "shocking." In a statement Sunday afternoon, he said he will hold accountable whoever was responsible.

Here's the full statement:

I am deeply saddened by the reported killing and wounding of Afghan civilians. I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering. This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan. I fully support Secretary Panetta’s and General Allen’s commitment to get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday pushed back on Rick Santorum's suggestion the night before that the improving economy could damage the GOP's odds in the November elections.

"Well, no, I don't think he's right at all," Graham said, asked about Santorum's comment on ABC's This Week.

Graham didn't address the possibility that the economy could improve, instead calling the recovery "anemic" and said "the policies of the president are going to make it impossible for this country to recover."

On Saturday, Santorum said: "You know, the economy may be getting better and Republicans may lose their edge on that issue. Well, if that was the only issue in this race, that may or may not be the case, we don’t know."

In an unusually candid admission, Rick Santorum said Saturday that the improving economy could conceivably hurt the Republican Party's odds of victory in the 2012 elections.

Here's what Santorum said last night -- full quote via Memphis Newspaper, and part of it corroborated by ABC News.

“You hear now the media starting to say, oh well, looks like the economy is getting better,” Santorum told supporters Saturday night in Springfield, Mo., shortly after the Associated Press declared him the winner of the Kansas caucuses. “You know, the economy may be getting better and Republicans may lose their edge on that issue. Well, if that was the only issue in this race, that may or may not be the case, we don’t know.”

He added that “the point is that’s the point — we don’t know what the big issue of the day is going to be when it comes to national security. It may be the dominant issue, national security with Iran on the precipice of getting a nuclear weapon, Israel feeling increasingly isolated by this administration.”

The GOP has walked a fine line as the jobs picture has gradually improved in recent weeks and months, eager not to be seen as rooting for economic failure but equally desperate not to give President Obama any credit.

Notably, Santorum openly mulled the possibility Saturday that other issues could play a greater role come November.

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