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

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."

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who replaced Arlen Specter last year, mourned the death of the 82-year-old former Pennsylvania senator in a Sunday statement.

Via The Patriot-News, Toomey said: "Senator Arlen Specter was a true Pennsylvania institution whose record of fighting for our Commonwealth is unmatched. Senator Specter's contributions to Pennsylvania and the United States will leave a lasting legacy. Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Specter's family during this difficult time."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he's "deeply saddened" by the death of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in a statement Sunday afternoon, declaring that the country is "better today" because of his service.

His statement in full:

"I was deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Senator Arlen Specter. I served with Senator Specter in Congress for twenty-eight years. Senator Specter was a man of moderation; he was always passionate, but always easy to work with.

"I followed him through his previous illnesses, during the course of which he displayed great physical strength and great strength of character. Throughout his life, Senator Specter fought and won many battles, but this was one he could not win.

"America is better today because of Arlen Specter. He will be dearly missed."

Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) inaccurately claimed that unemployment is higher now than when President Obama took office.

JAKE TAPPER: This has been weak economic recovery, without question, but it is a recovery, and unemployment is going down, as a factual matter. Why would Congressman Ryan, in defiance of facts, suggest otherwise?

PORTMAN: I think that what he was saying is the truth, which is, unemployment's higher today than when the president took office. And you know, unfortunately, in the meantime, we’ve created net zero jobs, Jake.

The unemployment rate last month ticked down to 7.8 percent -- the same as it was in Jan. 2009 when the economy was collapsing.

Watch the video, via Think Progress.

Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that Mitt Romney has been "completely consistent throughout" the campaign when it comes to his opposition to abortion, amid accusations that he's softening his hard-line position from the primaries.

"Life is a very important issue in this election -- as is the economy and as it national security, all these issues always play a very important role," Gillespie said.

"He is a pro-life candidate. He will be a pro-life president."