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

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) a letter Wednesday calling on him to permit a vote on the expiring middle-class tax cuts enacted by President Bush and extended by President Obama in 2010.

Her full letter:

Dear Speaker Boehner:

Without further delay, the Majority Leadership should schedule a vote on extension of the middle-income tax cuts, as early as next week, to increase certainty for millions of American taxpayers and for the economy.  We should not delay passing this legislation that will help afford all Americans the opportunity to reach their goals and realize the promise of the American Dream. 

We must ask the very wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.  Democrats believe that tax cuts for those earning over a million dollars a year should expire and that we should use the resulting revenues to pay down the deficit. 

By ensuring that the middle-income tax cuts do not expire, we will put money into the pockets of American consumers, saving the typical middle-income family thousands of dollars per year.   Extension of this middle-income tax cut will inject demand into our markets and strengthen small businesses.  By investing in both the short-term growth of our economy and the long-term prosperity of our nation, it will empower the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people.  We cannot afford another manufactured crisis that unnecessarily threatens the full faith and credit of the United States and jeopardizes our economic recovery.

Extending middle-income tax cuts that benefit nearly all Americans is not controversial.  Congressional leaders across the ideological spectrum agree that we should not be raising taxes on middle-income people at this delicate time in our recovery from the worst recession in 70 years.  It is unacceptable to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage to extending multi-billion dollar tax breaks for millionaires, Big Oil, special interests, and corporations that ship jobs overseas. 

I urge you to allow the House to vote on the permanent extension of middle-income tax cuts now and for Democrats and Republicans to work together to strengthen our middle class, create jobs, and grow our economy in a balanced and fiscally responsible way.

Thank you for your consideration.

best regards,


Democratic Leader

A dominant theme of the national political discourse has been the crushing spending spree the U.S. has ostensibly embarked on during the Obama presidency. That argument, ignited by Republicans and picked up by many elite opinion makers, has infused the national dialogue and shaped the public debate in nearly every major budget battle of the last thee years.

But the numbers tell a different story.

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An election-year effort by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to advance a scaled-back DREAM Act is drawing praise from Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), the Democrats' most vocal crusader for comprehensive immigration reform.

"The problem [on immigration reform] has never been the Democratic Party. The problem has been Republican votes," Gutiérrez told TPM in an interview Tuesday. "And Rubio is the first light reaching out of the tunnel. So I wish him success."

Rubio has yet to release his bill, but he says it will offer legal residency to some undocumented immigrants raised in the United States and give them the opportunity to seek citizenship through the regular channels.

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In the escalating battle over how to avoid a looming economic contraction next year, Democratic leaders are continuing to rebuff Republican efforts to avert scheduled tax hikes and military spending cuts without bringing new tax revenues into the deficit-reduction mix.

"Once Republicans are willing to abandon their commitment to more tax breaks for multi-millionaires and special interests and their plans to end Medicare, I am confident that we can reach an agreement," wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a Tuesday letter to Republicans. "Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans' blind adherence to Tea Party extremism is making it impossible to reach this sort of balanced agreement before the election."

Reid's letter came in response to a letter from 41 Senate Republicans demanding action while continuing to reject the prospect of asking wealthier Americans to contribute more to debt-reduction.

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Sensing a political opportunity, Democrats are working to back Republicans into a corner on legislation designed to punish Americans who renounce their citizenship to avoid paying taxes, as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin did.

The legislation, unveiled last Thursday by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bob Casey (D-PA), provoked over-the-top conservative pushback, with Grover Norquist and the Wall Street Journal editorial board comparing it to the actions of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), conscious of not being portrayed as defending jet-setting elites who seek to avoid their legal obligations, said Sunday that Saverin's actions were "outrageous." He told ABC's "This Week" he may support the Schumer-Casey bill, but hedged that he wasn't sure it's necessary.

Now, with an apparent rift emerging, Democrats are twisting the knife.

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The University of Notre Dame on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its requirement that employer-provided insurance plans include birth control coverage.

The issue was the subject of a heated firestorm earlier this year. The administration tweaked its rule to accommodate religious nonprofits like Catholic universities and hospitals. Churches are exempt. Republicans continued to demand that Obama reverse the rule entirely but backed down after receiving immense blowback.

"Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about: it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services," John Jenkins, the university's president, said in a statement. "We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the Government not impose its values on the University when those values conflict with our religious teachings."

President Obama delivered the 2009 commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame. Others institutions such as Ave Maria University, as well as several Republican-led states, have also sued to block the mandate.

Read the UND lawsuit below.

University Of Notre Dame Federal Complaint Against Dept Of Health And Human Services

Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) spokesman Brian Fallon hit back at Grover Norquist after the anti-tax activist compared the senator's anti-tax-dodging bill to the actions of Nazis.

"When even Speaker Boehner feels free to openly disagree with Grover Norquist, it is official that literally no one cares what Norquist thinks on this issue," Fallon told TPM in an email Monday.

Speaker John Boehner hedged Sunday and said he may support the so-called Ex-PATRIOT Act.

New Democratic-led legislation aimed at penalizing those who would renounce their U.S. citizenship to dodge taxes has provoked fiery criticism from influential conservatives and is putting Republican leaders in a politically precarious situation.

Inspired by the actions of Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who renounced his citizenship ahead of a large tax payment associated with the company's much-ballyhooed initial public offering, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bob Casey (D-PA) unveiled a bill Thursday to force such tax-dodgers to pay a 30 percent tax rate on all future U.S. investments and ban them from ever setting foot in the country again.

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist compared it to the actions of Nazi Germany.

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Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (IL), the Democrats' leading crusader for immigration reform, says he would support Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) scaled-back version of the DREAM Act.

“If he’s got a proposal, I will work with Rubio, I’m telling you that," Gutiérrez told Fox News Latino. "I think he's sincere, I think he's genuine."

“Even if it’s watered down and does not grant citizenship, if it stops the deportations and doesn’t exclude them from becoming citizens, doesn’t stop that from happening, [then] yes [I would support Rubio's bill],” the congressman added.

The bill is a longshot at best, particularly in the Republican-led House. Rubio, who has yet to release the legislation, has been angling to blame the White House for its likely failure.

Watch the video, via Fox News Latino:


Just hours after Cory Booker undermined one of President Obama's key campaign messages Sunday, the Democratic mayor of Newark, N.J., reversed his criticism.

On NBC's "Meet The Press," Booker attacked Obama's recent ad criticizing Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital and equated it to bashing the president over Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

"I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity," Booker said. "If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, it -- they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this to me -- I'm very uncomfortable."

"This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides," he added. "Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop."

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