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

One in five Americans do not identify as religious, according to a new poll, representing a significant spike over the last five years.

The share of adults who do not claim a religious affiliation has jumped from 15.3 percent in 2007 to 19.6 percent in 2012, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

The study found large increases in the number of Americans who label themselves "atheist," "agnostic" and "nothing in particular." The percentage that identifies as Christian has fallen by 5 percent since 2007 while the fraction that claims other faiths rose by 2 percent.

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Arch-conservative Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is indicating his support for a major provision in 'Obamacare' which closes a prescription drug coverage gap for elderly Americans on Medicare.

"I'm a renowned conservative who supported Part D," King told his home state paper The Messenger in a little-noticed interview published late last week. But he said of the so-called doughnut hole, "It will haunt us until it's filled."

The Affordable Care Act gradually fills the doughnut hole, a glitch in the 2003 Part D legislation that spikes seniors' out of pocket costs for prescription drugs -- currently after the first $2,930 and until $4,700 per year (the figures change over time).

King stopped short of pointedly endorsing that part of Obamacare -- he maintains that the entire health care reform law must be repealed -- but clearly championed the principle and took no particular issue with the way the ACA approaches the task, although he is concerned about the cost.

As The Messenger reported: "He added that he wants to fill it, but doesn't know where the needed money will come from. ... He said fixing the Medicare Part D coverage gap is not a reason to keep Obamacare in place. He said he believes that law is too expensive and takes away the individual's freedom to make decisions about their health care."

A spokesperson for King did not immediately return a request to elaborate on his comments, which were highlighted over the weekend in the Huffington Post.

King is in a tough reelection race against Democrat Christie Vilsack, the wife of former Iowa governor and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

While flirtation with supporting a piece of Obamacare is notable in part because of King's fierce, unabashed opposition to the law, it's one of several popular provisions that Republican leaders and even tea party darlings in tough reelection battles have signaled sympathy for this year -- others include covering preexisting conditions and letting young Americans up to 26 remain on a parent's insurance plan.

Newt Gingrich called out Mitt Romney on Sunday for backing off his promise to cut taxes on the wealthy after winning the Republican nomination.

"I think it's clear he changed," Gingrich said on NBC's "Meet The Press" roundtable, admitting that Romney had shifted from wanting to lower taxes on all Americans to promising that his reform plan would not lower taxes paid by the wealthy.

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On ABC's "This Week" roundtable Sunday, Paul Krugman said Mitt Romney is exploiting a press that is ineffective at holding politicians accountable for lies.

"The press just doesn’t know how to handle flat-out untruths," he said.

"I don’t know whether to blame [the debate moderator Jim] Lehrer or the president, but it was kind of amazing because Romney was not only saying things that are not true, he was saying things that his own campaign had previously said weren’t true,” said the economist and New York Times columnist.

Citing Romney's claims on taxes and preexisting conditions, Krugman said the Republican nominee showed "contempt for us by thinking the news media will not cover on me as long as they say forcefully I won."

Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie sought to discredit the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center after it concluded that Mitt Romney cannot keep his tax cuts deficit neutral simply by targeting loopholes for high incomes.

"There's one study that says that you can't -- that uses the word assume or assumption 68 times -- by a liberal think tank, and that's what [Robert] Gibbs and others point to," he said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said on "Fox News Sunday" that Mitt Romney will not cut taxes on the rich, and echoed his campaign's pledge to maintain the same burden on high incomes by closing tax loopholes.

"First of all, Governor Romney made it clear in the debate," she said, "that he is not going to lower the burden on upper income individuals. We all know, Chris, that upper income individuals rely more heavily on deductions."

She defended Romney's refusal to identify any tax credits or deductions he would eliminate, insisting he would sort that out with Congress after he's elected.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs conceded Sunday that Mitt Romney had a strong performance in the presidential debate but accused him of distorting the facts.

Governor Romney had a masterful theatrical performance just this past week, but the underpinnings and foundations of that performance were fundamentally dishonest.  Look, he walked away from the central tenet of his economic theory by saying he had no idea what the president was talking about.  Ten minutes after the debate, even his own staff is walking back his answers on health care and preexisting conditions.

So, look, I don’t want to take anything away from what I think, again, was a masterful, masterful performance by Governor Romney, but I don’t think Governor Romney’s positions have changed, and fundamentally, I don’t think the campaign has changed.

He said the man who showed up at the debate was "a clone that looked a lot like Mitt Romney that had walked away from fundamentally every position that he’d taken."

A new ad released Sunday by Mitt Romney battles the notion that his platform would cut taxes by $5 trillion, charging President Obama with seeking to "distort" his plan.

The spot accuses the president -- who bases his claim on a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center -- of "not telling the truth about Mitt Romney’s tax plan.’"

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) charged Mitt Romney with fibbing during the debate by claiming his platform does not include a $5 trillion tax cut.

"We saw Big Bird meet the big lie," he said.

Mitt Romney used to boast that his Massachusetts health care law should serve as a model for national health reform. After President Obama took that advice, and opposing the Affordable Care Act became an essential criterion for membership in the Republican Party, Romney executed a hairpin turn and began describing his reforms as uniquely suited to Massachusetts -- not the whole country -- if even that.

At the first presidential debate Wednesday night, he came full circle.

"What we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation, state by state," he said.

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