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

During the opening night of the Democratic convention, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid again swung at Mitt Romney for refusing to release more tax returns.

"When you look at the one tax return he has released it's obvious why. It's obvious why there's only been one. We learned that he pays a lower tax rate than middle-class families; we learned that he chose Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island tax shelters over American institutions," Reid said Tuesday. "We could only imagine what new secrets would be revealed if he showed the American people a dozen years of tax returns -- like his father did."

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Appearing on CNN during the opening night of the Democratic convention, retiring longtime Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) argued that his party was willing to help President Bush weather the 2008 economic crisis -- unlike Republicans, who he said refused to lift a finger to assist President Obama when he needed them.

"The problem there is that assumes even if he wasn't doing health care, the Republicans would have been less obstructive on jobs. I'm afraid that's not the case," said the congressman, when asked if President Obama squandered too much capital on health care reform.

"Unfortunately, from the very beginning -- look, look at the contrast. George Bush came to us on the Democratic side in late '08 and said, we're in a crisis, we need your help -- and we gave it to him, very openly, very fully. Then Obama comes in to try to deal with the terrible situation he inherited from bush and the republican media went into full partisan attack. [Senate Republican Leader] Mitch McConnell announcing his number one goal was to defeat the president. I don't think in the end the timing, unfortunately, would have helped a great deal." 

At the Democratic convention Tuesday night, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attacked Mitt Romney's plan to convert Medicare into a sort of voucher system.

"What's missing from the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare is Medicare," she said. "The president agrees there should be no vouchers."

President Obama, she concluded, "has earned four more years."

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius opened her speech Tuesday night at the Democratic convention with a full-fledged defense of "Obamacare."

"For us Democrats, Obamacare is a badge of honor," she said.

She added: "Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. Now that's what change looks like."

The Democratic Party's 2012 platform calls for future deficit reduction to exclusively come from tax hikes on wealthy individuals and businesses, implying the party's willingness to open negotiations with Republicans by agreeing to cut spending on social programs unconditionally is over.

"We support allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire and closing loopholes and deductions for the largest corporations and the highest-earning taxpayers," the platform reads. "We are committed to reforming our tax code so that it is fairer and simpler, creating a tax code that lives up to the Buffett Rule so no millionaire pays a smaller share of his or her income in taxes than middle class families do."

The corollary to this message: no more spending cuts.

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On the day the national debt hit $16 trillion, Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto inaccurately said the "lion's share" of it was added under President Obama.

"It happened within this last hour. We crossed a major milestone once thought unthinkable. Sixteen trillion dollars in red ink," Cavuto said Tuesday. "...A lot of these folks don't seem to be too perplexed about that. And if they are, they are saying there is bipartisan blame -- and on that they are right. But the lion's share of this did accumulate under President Obama. And he has some 'splining to do. He and his surrogates who are minutes away from officially kicking off the convention -- a response to what they say were Republican lies and mischaracterizations last week in Tampa."

The national debt was $10.6 trillion when Obama took office.





As the 2012 election was getting underway, Bill Clinton advised the Obama campaign to go after Mitt Romney as a right-wing ideologue instead of a flip-flopper.

That's according to an article in the next issue of The New Yorker on the complex, evolving relationship between the two most recent standard-bearers of the Democratic Party. Ryan Lizza reports that the ex-president offered his counsel to top Obama campaign aides David Axelrod and Jim Messina in his Harlem office last November.

Clinton's logic: running against a conservative ideologue would help energize liberal voters and donors -- and the flip-flopper charge could backfire. The Obama campaign seems to have taken the advice to heart -- building its case around the message that voters should take Romney at his word about the conservative policies he has backed.

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On ABC's "This Week" roundtable Sunday, former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd added himself to the list of mainstream political commentators who questioned the sincerity of Paul Ryan's attacks on President Obama during his convention speech.

Here's a transcript of that discussion between Dowd, host George Stephanopoulos and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile (emphasis added):

DOWD:  George, I think that -- I mean, to me, the biggest problem with this argument, and if -- like if you can still find a little -- tiny little kernel way down deep, it's like partially true and we're going to make this argument. 

The truth has become a casualty in the course of this campaign on both sides of the aisle.  The truth is a casualty in this.  It's as if we're going to make any argument possible that's going -- advantageous our side in order to overcome the other side.  

The Republicans do it.  The Democrats do it. 



DOWD:  Not necessarily on the same scale.  But we'll see it at this convention.  Because, I think, from my perspective, what happened at this convention is that nobody is calling on it, or maybe a few people are calling on it.  Paul Ryan, what he did in his speech, I think, so stretched the truth, and I like Paul Ryan, I have a lot of great respect for Paul Ryan, but [what] he said about closing the GM plant, which closed before Barack Obama took president, about the Simpson-Bowles bill which -- Simpson-Bowles, which he opposed, and then all of a sudden you see faults Barack Obama for. At some point the truth should matter.  

White House senior adviser David Plouffe on Sunday elevated what is crystallizing into a central Obama campaign claim: Mitt Romney is building his campaign on lies.

"Right now their campaign is built on a tripod of lies," he said on ABC's "This Week." "A welfare attack that is just absolutely untrue. The suggestion we're raiding Medicare -- absolutely untrue. And then this whole 'we can build it' nonsense."

The remarks reflect Team Obama's exasperation with the attacks from Romney and his surrogates that either misrepresent the facts or omit important context on issues at the heart of the election.

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After his acceptance speech in Tampa, Fla., Mitt Romney repeated his pledge to slash the deficit and balance the budget, vowing to lead where Republicans have failed in the past.

"We're going to finally have to do something that Republicans have spoken about for a long time, and for a while we didn't do it," he told a crowd in Cincinnati, Ohio on Saturday. "When we had the lead we let people down. We need to make sure we don't lead them down this time -- I will cut the deficit and get us on track to a balanced budget."

The remark received a roaring applause. But it's difficult to square with many of Romney's other promises, which involve raising federal spending or reducing revenues, that are core to his case against President Obama.

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