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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

One of Mitt Romney's top surrogates acknowledged Tuesday that the GOP candidate's tax plan will only be revenue neutral if it sparks a degree of economic growth most economists regard as wildly implausible.

At the same time he warned Romney against targeting popular tax benefits as sources of new revenue to help pay for his plan to cut taxes by $5 trillion.

Taken together, the comments illustrate just how difficult it would be for any president to reform the tax code, and serve as a reminder that Romney's tax plan is particularly dubious -- and would likely require either increasing middle class taxes or tolerating significantly higher budget deficits.

"There will be a very helpful debate about whether things like the charitable deduction, the health insurance premium, the home interest deduction should be part of the deal," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at a Bloomberg View event.

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On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus likened Republican Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, a former governor of Wisconsin, to two of the best-known brand names in the state.

He was discussing the down-ticket impacts of a surging presidential candidate:

As the top of the ticket does well, so does most everything else. I will take my own state of Wisconsin, for example. The polls were clearly far apart at every level in Wisconsin and now, Mitt Romney and president obama are neck in neck in Wisconsin and so is Tommy Thompson and Tammy Baldwin and I think in that particular case, Tommy Thompson, he is like -- in Wisconsin, he is like Harley Davidson and Miller Lite and Tommy Thompson -- they all kind of go together, he's a brand.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday, Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs downplayed the significance of a Gallup poll Monday that showed the president and Mitt Romney tied among women voters in battleground states.

He said:

Absolutely we expected a tightening race. Look, we had 53 percent of the vote four years ago. So obviously everyone expected this to be an extraordinarily tight race three and a half weeks out. I should point out about the Gallup poll you mentioned. We put out a memo on this yesterday. I do not think any poll in the last two weeks has shown what the Gallup poll did in terms of a tie among female voters. You know, CNN did an Ohio poll late last week where we were leading among women in Ohio by 22 points. I do not tnk that the Gallup survey that shows a tie among female voters is what's going on in the country because we've not seen it replicated in any other either battleground state or national poll.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday morning, Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs promised a stellar debate for the president in the evening.

"Look, I think you're going to see an exceptionally strong debate performance tonight from the president," he said. "I think you'll see someone who'll be strong, who'll be passionate, who'll be energetic -- will talk about ... not just the last four years but what the agenda is for the future and how we continue to move our country and economy forward, strengthening it for the middle class. I think that's what you'll hear tonight from the president."

Converting Medicare into a voucher program modeled on the plan Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have proposed would increase premiums for the majority of seniors, even ones who choose to remain in traditional Medicare, according to a comprehensive nonpartisan study (PDF) released Monday.

The Kaiser Family Foundation delved into the likely impact of transforming Medicare into a "premium support" system. Under that approach, the federal government would provide seniors a subsidy to shop for insurance plans from a menu of competing private plans and traditional Medicare. That subsidy would be capped at the value of the second least costly premium in the marketplace.

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Mitt Romney's campaign moved to dismiss the relevance of a new Kaiser Family Foundation study on Monday that found most seniors would pay higher costs under a Medicare voucher system modeled on the Romney-Ryan reforms.

"As the authors stress, this is not a study of the Romney-Ryan plan," spokeswoman Andrea Saul told TPM. "Our plan would always provide future beneficiaries guaranteed coverage options with no increase in out-of-pocket costs from today’s Medicare."

Although the study sought to explore the implications of much of what the Romney-Ryan plan specifies, Saul pointed to a section of the Kaiser report that decreed it an imperfect reflection:

This study should not, however, be interpreted as an analysis of any particular proposal, including the Romney-Ryan proposal, because such an analysis would require additional, more detailed policy specifications than are currently available, and would also require assumptions about future shifts in demographics, spending, and enrollment, nationally and by local markets, which would occur regardless of policy changes. Additionally, this analysis assumes full implementation of a premium support system in 2010, whereas other proposals would gradually phase-in a premium support system over time, and apply the premium support system to new enrollees rather than all beneficiaries (e.g., current seniors).

In response to the persistent and substantial questions about the math of his tax plan not adding up, Mitt Romney and his campaign frequently argue that six independent studies back him up by ratifying the arithmetic of the centerpiece of his domestic agenda.

But the talking point about the talking point is unraveling.

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Reeling from an admittedly lousy performance in the first presidential debate, President Obama's reelection team is building up expectations for Round Two against Mitt Romney this Tuesday evening in Long Island.

Appearing Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Obama's senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said the president was "disappointed in his own performance" in the first debate and vows to be more "energetic" and "passionate" in the second one at Hofstra University.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) mourned the passing of longtime Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in a brief statement Sunday afternoon.

"A legendary figure in his beloved Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter brought his fierce intellect and a prosecutor's drive to countless battles in the Senate. He was a fighter to the end, and Elaine and I send our deepest condolences to Joan and the entire Specter family."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi mourned the passing of former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in a statement released Sunday afternoon.

"For three decades, Senator Arlen Specter served the people of Pennsylvania with independence, toughness, determination and an unflinching devotion to the best interests of his constituents and our country. 

"From the committee room to the Senate chamber, Senator Specter offered a voice of reason and passion in every debate – always willing to reach across the aisle and work across party lines to get the job done, regardless of political gamesmanship or gain.  As a fellow appropriator, I was honored to work with him to invest in the health of our veterans, scientific and medical research, and a host of other priorities.

"In his personal life, Senator Specter battled challenges to his health with the same spirit and vigor he brought to the floor of the United States Senate.  His memory and legacy will continue to inspire his colleagues and all who knew him.  We only hope it is a comfort to his wife, Joan, and his family that so many mourn their loss at this sad time."

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