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

The premise of the Romney-Ryan plan to convert Medicare into a voucher system is that private insurance plans would compete with traditional government-run Medicare to drive down costs and improve care for seniors.

But a new study suggests that may be an overly optimistic view.

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In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, President Obama said Ayn Rand's writings are appealing to those who are "17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood." But "as we get older," he said, people recognize its "narrow vision."

The relevant portion of the interview:

Have you ever read Ayn Rand?

What do you think Paul Ryan's obsession with her work would mean if he were vice president?
Well, you'd have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that's a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a "you're on your own" society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

Chief Justice John Roberts may have saved the Affordable Care Act under the Constitution's taxing power, but President Obama criticized him for decreeing that it does not pass muster under the Commerce Clause.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine published Thursday, Obama said the law is "clearly constitutional under the Commerce Clause," arguing it "makes no sense" to deprive Congress of the authority to regulate health care as it sees fit.

The president posited that the ruling was designed to "preserve the law" while potentially setting the stage to "scale back Congress' power under the Commerce Clause in future cases."

From the Rolling Stone interview:

How do you feel about Justice Roberts' ruling on the Affordable Care Act? Were you surprised?
I wasn't surprised. I was always confident that the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, was constitutional. It was interesting to see them, or Justice Roberts in particular, take the approach that this was constitutional under the taxing power. The truth is that if you look at the precedents dating back to the 1930s, this was clearly constitutional under the Commerce Clause. I think Justice Roberts made a decision that allowed him to preserve the law but allowed him to keep in reserve the desire, maybe, to scale back Congress' power under the Commerce Clause in future cases.

What made you so certain that the law was constitutional?
It's hard to dispute that health care is a national issue of massive importance. It takes up 17 or 18 percent of our entire economy; it touches on everybody's lives; it is a massive burden on businesses, on our federal budget and on families. It's practiced across state lines. So the notion that Congress could not take a comprehensive approach to that problem the way we have makes no sense.

A new study underscores the far-reaching consequences of Mitt Romney's plan to slash Medicaid spending and the stark contrast between the Republican candidate and President Obama's vision for the program.

The analysis (PDF), released Tuesday by the Urban Institute for the Kaiser Family Foundation, finds that a Medicaid program modeled on vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's budget blueprint, would slash the program's funding by $1.7 trillion over 10 years.

Romney has announced his support for Ryan's budget, and has proposed, like Ryan, to turn the program over to the states and to cap its annual spending.

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At the final presidential debate Monday night, Mitt Romney obscured his early opposition to providing taxpayer funds to rescue the auto industry before it went through a private bankruptcy process.

"I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks," he said. "I said they need — these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, and in that process they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they'd built up. ... I said that we would provide guarantees and that was what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy."

"The idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry -- of course not," the GOP candidate said. "That's the height of silliness."

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Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) praised Mitt Romney's performance in the final debate and criticized President Obama for mocking the GOP candidate's approach to the defense budget.

"Frankly, I don't understand why the president wants to take these kind of cheap shots -- bayonets and horses, what's that all about?" he said. "You know, when I debated then-Senator Obama I didn't criticize or belittle his lack of experience on national security issues. And he seemed to take these kind of cheap shots. ... I kind of resent it." 

"I think you should treat your opponent with some respect. ... It was small ball."

Speaking to ABC News, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan offered his take on Monday night's foreign policy debate:

“We really didn’t actually get an agenda for how we should move our country forward on foreign policy,” Ryan said. “We got sort of a defensive, you know, he tried to defend his record. It is a bad record. Turn on your TV and you can see that the Obama foreign policy is unraveling before us.”

“What Mitt Romney said, ‘here is how we can do a better job in Iran policy, here is what we should have done in all these other areas,’…and more importantly, I think [Romney] did a great job of articulating a vision for America’s role in the world. Having a strong economy, a strong America at home, a strong military and being very resolute and certain in defense of our values overseas,” Ryan told me.

Vice President Joe Biden told ABC News that he believes President Obama's performance in the foreign policy debate Monday night made up for his poor showing in the first debate.

He also went after Mitt Romney as unready for the job:

“[President Obama] clearly [has] made up for that but what Governor Romney showed today, and I felt a little badly because it’s clear he is not, he is not ready to be the commander-in-chief of the United States military,” the Vice President told me. “He demonstrated a lack of sophistication about what’s going on in the world, his rapid change in his positions. Look being president requires a clear vision and a steady hand. That’s exactly what president Obama demonstrated tonight.”

Freshman Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), appearing Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," offered his take on the foreign policy debate on behalf of President Obama.

"There was only one commander in chief on stage last night," he said. "It is too late for Governor Romney, once again, to move his positions dramatically. ... What was striking was that yet again, a completely new Governor Romney showed up last night."

MSNBC's "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough said early Tuesday morning that President Obama relentless jabs at Mitt Romney's foreign policy during last night's debate 

"I actually think you may have seen, with the president, a man who believed his opponent was unworthy," the anchor and former Republican congressman said, speculating that Obama sought to "disqualify" Romney.