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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

Retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Fox News Sunday that he won't endorse in the 2012 presidential election.

"I'm going to try something different this year. I'm going to try to stay out of this one," he said with a laugh. "I'm enjoying not being involved in the nastiness of campaigning in America these days."

Lieberman was Al Gore's running mate in 2000, flipped to independent in 2006 and supported John McCain for president in 2008.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (D-CT) told Fox News Sunday he has seen no evidence that national security information was compromised in the Secret Service scandal involving prostitutes.

"The answer I'm going to give is not conclusive, but from everything I've heard up until this point, no evidence that information was compromised," he said.

But Lieberman expressed concern that if Secret Service agents are seen as "acting like a bunch of college kids on spring weekend" while on assignment, "then people who are hostile to the U.S., people who actually want to attack the president of the United States, will begin to take advantage of that vulnerability."

The senator said he still has confidence in Secret Service director Mark Sullivan, who he said "has acted with a sense of urgency and determination" to right the wrongs of what happened in Colombia.

Nine months after the famed deficit negotiations between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner collapsed, the House's top Republican and top Democrat spent a full week sparring over what really happened at that critical July 2011 juncture. With a debt-limit driven economic crisis looming, Obama and Boehner neared a "grand bargain" on taxes and spending only to watch it splinter, then break apart completely at the 11th hour.

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Billed as an effort to aid small businesses, House Republicans passed a broad business tax cut Thursday afternoon, overcoming fire from both the left and right about its meager job-creation potential.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor spearheaded the measure, which passed 235-173, and would allow businesses with fewer than 500 employees to deduct 20 percent of their income, at a revenue cost of $46 billion next year alone. Senate Democrats have rejected it and the White House has threatened a veto.

That's not simply to deny Cantor and the GOP an election-year victory. According to an outside analysis posted on Cantor's website, the expensive tax cut would create some 40,000 jobs in one year. As NPR has calculated, that's upwards of $1 million per job created.

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Exhibit A: Presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney is warning his donors that Republicans must win back Hispanic voters or face "demographic doom."

Exhibit B: House Republicans are pushing policies that disproportionately harm Hispanics.

This study in contrast leaves Republicans on the horns of an election-year dilemma: As they eagerly seek to rebuild bridges with Hispanics, party leaders are simultaneously pushing bills that would make life harder for members of that same community.

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Senate Democratic women are renewing their call for Republicans to drop their opposition to expanded provisions in the Violence Against Women Act re-authorization, painting the GOP into a corner on a red-hot political issue.

Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) held a Capitol press briefing Wednesday to announce that the Democratic-led measure already has 61 cosponsors -- suggesting Republicans lack the votes for a filibuster -- and to lament continued opposition from some Republicans.

"It really is a shame that we've gotten to this point," Murray said, "That we even have to stand here today to urge our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to support legislation that has consistently received broad, bipartisan approval."

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For anyone who paid even passing attention to U.S. politics in 2011, the themes were loud and persistent: Republicans had stormed back into Washington to put an end to excessive government spending and runaway deficits, and would take no prisoners if Democrats stood in their way. The GOP's bravado manifested in a series of partisan clashes over must-pass legislation, and climaxed in near economic calamity when Republicans refused to raise the federal debt limit.

Fast-forward to 2012 -- the GOP's leverage is gone, and the legislative landscape on Capitol Hill has fallowed. Republicans are still running on deficit reduction, but as the election nears, their governing agenda reveals something that close observers recognized all along: Deficit reduction was never the point. Whether acceding to political reality, or proactively moving messaging bills through the House, the GOP has quietly let on that they're fine with deficits -- as long as they come in the right flavors.

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They'll have to make do. But conservative House Republicans are having a hard time finding anything praiseworthy to say about their party's presumptive presidential nominee.

Fourteen GOP conservatives sat together Tuesday on a Capitol Hill panel to field questions from a few dozen reporters and other attendees about the political issues of the day. When asked, predictably, to provide their thoughts about Mitt Romney, they turned decidedly lukewarm.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) summed up the conservative mood with a joke that won laughter from the audience, but might have hit too close to home for many in the GOP.

"Whether you're liberal, whether you're very conservative," he said, "you ought to be excited [about Romney] because he's been on your side at one time or another."

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All the Senate Republicans -- and even some Democrats -- who've attacked President Obama for refusing to embrace the storied Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan in 2010 may end up with a chance to replace their preening with recorded votes.

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) announced Tuesday that he will introduce the framework as a blueprint for the upper-chamber's official budget resolution -- a response to Republicans who for years have hectored him and his party for failing to advance a plan with a vision for the country's future.

At a Capitol press briefing, Conrad downplayed expectations of the plan passing anytime soon, pointing out that it will take time for the fiscal commission report, issued in late 2010, to be adjusted for economic and policy developments that have occurred in the intervening months. He also expressed doubt that any long-term budget can be agreed to in the polarized 112th Congress.

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Rep. Barney Frank told TPM Tuesday morning that the National Republican Congressional Committee is "twisting my words" by citing a recent interview to say Frank believes the Affordable Care Act is a "disaster."

"No, I have no issue with the subject matter or the bill itself," Frank said. "I was just commenting on the politics. And I was saying it was a mistake to have done it first." He was arguing that Democrats should have prioritized financial reform, Frank insisted -- which was more popular, and for which which Frank was the point person -- before moving on to health care.

In the interview with New York magazine, Frank said, "I think we paid a terrible price for health care. I would not have pushed it as hard. As a matter of fact, after Scott Brown won, I suggested going back. I would have started with financial reform but certainly not health care."

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