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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

Two and a half years after the landmark Supreme Court ruling that invited a flood of corporate money in U.S. elections, the justice who led the barnstorming dissent says he's increasingly convinced the decision won't stand the test of time.

In a speech at the University of Arkansas, retired Justice John Paul Stevens argued that events since the decision "provide a basis to expect that the Court already has had second thoughts about the breadth of the reasoning" and will likely return to its 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC.

Stevens noted that Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion did not explicitly address the possibility that the decision could open up the floodgates for foreign entities to bankroll U.S. elections. It's a notion that President Obama warned of in his 2010 State of the Union, prompting Justice Samuel Alito to famously shake his head and mouth "not true."

When the justices carve out that exception, argued Stevens, they will "create a crack in the foundation of the Citizens United majority opinion."

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On ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Paul Krugman and George Will agreed that the gubernatorial recall election on Tuesday is a microcosm of what the nation faces -- but they differed on why.

The roundtable exchange with host George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS:  We have a couple minutes left before we have to take a break, and I just quickly want to go to you, George Will, because you're calling this recall election in Wisconsin, coming up on Tuesday, Governor Scott Walker, the Republican, facing a recall, the second most important election this year.

WILL:  Yes, because it's a microcosm of what the country faces, an attempt to change the trajectory of the public sector.  You have this extraordinary conflict there where unions are defending their privileged position.  And it does look as though Wisconsin people are going to try and take that back. 

The man running against Scott Walker, Mayor Barrett of Milwaukee, has used the Walker reforms to save $19 million in the Milwaukee budget itself, so he's running against a man whose reforms he's emulating and using.

KRUGMAN:  And yet, of course, Walker is proposing tax cuts that will do much more to hurt the budget than any of these alleged savings.  So this is -- it is a microcosm.  It is -- it's not -- it's not fiscal responsibility versus irresponsibility.  It is a vision of what kind of country you want to have and whether we're going to redistribute income upwards.

WILL:  A more than $3 billion budget that he inherited -- deficit has now become a surplus.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a top campaign adviser for Mitt Romney, tied the Republican presidential nominee to the GOP's budget plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Fehrnstrom's exchange with George Will Sunday on ABC's "This Week":

WILL: Where does the governor stand, Governor Romney, on the Ryan plan?  Does he endorse it? 

FEHRNSTROM: Oh, he's for -- he's for -- he's for the Ryan plan.  He believes it goes in the right direction.  The governor has also put forward a plan to reduce spending by $500 billion by the year 2016.  In fact, he's put details on the table about how exactly he would achieve that.  So to say he doesn't have a plan to -- a plan to restrain government spending is just not true.  

Appearing Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said Republican nominee for Senate Richard Mourdock's (IN) vision of bipartisanship is "wacky."

"I don't know what Constitution he wants to defend," the senator said.

Mourdock, who defeated longtime Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), famously said, "I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view."

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Sunday echoed his candidate Mitt Romney's line on Donald Trump's reinvigorated birtherism, distancing himself from the conspiracy theory without condeming Trump. 

"Mitt Romney and I both agree, the president was born in America," he said. "It's not where he was born. It's his policies that are the issue in this race."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) predicted Sunday that he will defeat Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the Wisconsin recall election Tuesday.

"I am going to win it," he said on CNN's State of the Union , pointing to recent polls that suggest the race is neck-and-neck. "And we have literally thousands of people on the streets this weekend. So we are very, very positive."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) on Sunday downplayed the minimal support from President Obama and the national Democratic Party apparatus, when repeatedly asked about it on CNN's State of the Union.

"It should be all about the people in the state of Wisconsin," Barrett said. "This is Wisconsin values versus outside influence, and again, I want to be on the side of Wisconsin values."

Gov. Scott Walker (R), he added, "wants to make this a national race because he wants to be on the national race, because he wants to be on the national stage as the rock star of the far right, as the poster boy of the tea party."

Over the last week, the signals have been abundant that congressional Republicans are pivoting from their total opposition to "Obamacare" toward supporting the more popular chunks of the law.

It's an election-year strategy to mitigate the fallout if the Supreme Court grants them their wish and strikes down the law next month. The House GOP is weighing a replacement plan to reinstate its more popular components, such as guaranteeing coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, letting people under 26 stay on a parent's policy and closing the Medicare "doughnut hole." The idea is also percolating among Senate Republicans.

Publicly at least, numerous GOP leaders are sticking to the anti-Obamacare script. Many Republicans aides and sources close to leadership declined to weigh in, but the rest said discussions have been brewing.

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The general contours of the White House's backroom deal in mid-2009 to win the pharmaceutical industry's support for health care reform were widely reported at the time. But the details remained obscured until Thursday, when a Republican-led investigation revealed the entirety of the negotiations and how the agreement was struck after nearly falling through.

The episode serves as an eye-opening glimpse into legislative sausage-making in Washington -- backroom deals with industry groups are hardly uncommon. It's also indicative of Obama's preference for neutralizing and co-opting the major players on his signature legislation. Republicans are nevertheless highlighting the deal less than six months before Obama's reelection to accuse him of breaking his promise to be open and transparent.

A spate of emails between senior officials at the White House and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) was released Thursday by GOP staff on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, resurrecting a discussion of the agreement that received criticism from progressives and conservatives alike at the time. The White House dismissed the new revelations as part of an election-year Republican witch hunt.

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