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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 Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Mitt Romney is looking stronger as a candidate.

"I don't know if I'd say he has it wrapped up," he said. "He's clearly on his way. I think he's becoming the prohibitive frontrunner. And I think the sooner we coalesce around a nominee the better off we're going to be. Because, you know, the prize is November, not this summer."

Ryan left the door open to the being the GOP's vice presidential nominee.

"I would have to consider it [if asked]," he said, "but it's not something I'm even thinking about right now."

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said it's not his job to pinpoint which tax loopholes to close in his budget, which purports to save lots of money by limiting loopholes and deductions.

"That's right. So that's what the Ways & Means Committee is supposed to do. That's not the job of the Budget Committee," Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. "What we're saying is, we want to do this in the light of day, not in some backroom deal. We want to have hearings in the Ways & Means Committee that Chairman Dave Camp has already started that work, to say what tax benefits should go, which ones are the ones that Washington is picking winners and losers, so we get to a cleaner, flatter tax code."

Ryan was asked by Chris Wallace how much money he'd need to bring in to offset the large tax cuts in his budget, which the House GOP is preparing to vote on soon.

"There's a trillion dollars a year of these kinds of loopholes that are built into the tax system," he said.

Pressed again, Ryan declined to get specific on which ones he'd cut.

"I can't because those decisions haven't been made," he said.

In an apparent new messaging tactic for 2012, White House senior adviser adviser David Plouffe labeled the new Paul Ryan budget the "Romney-Ryan plan," seeking to tether the GOP presidential frontrunner to the budget blueprint released last week.

"The Ryan plan -- which, by the way, is supported by the presidential candidates. So Mitt Romney is the frontrunner, this is really the Romney-Ryan plan," Plouffe said on Fox News Sunday. "It will be rubber-stamped if Mitt Romney is elected president. It fails the test of balance, and fairness and shared responsibility. It showers huge tax cuts on millionaires and billionaires, paid for by seniors and veterans."

"The right approach is the president's approach," he added, grilled by Chris Wallace on the president's budget. "That also allows our economy to grow. It doesn't strangle education, doesn't gut investments in clean energy. So, it's the right path to grow the economy and reduce the deficit."

One day before the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments on the health care reform law, White House senior adviser David Plouffe predicted that it will be upheld. 

"Well, you've seen jurists appointed by both Democrats and Republicans in lower courts uphold this law," Plouffe said on Fox News Sunday. "Two very important conservative jurist offering very strong opinions. So we're confident that it'll be constitutional."

"We're going to continue to implement this law smartly," he added, "and inform people of the benefits that are available to them."

White House senior adviser David Plouffe predicted Sunday that the Republicans will ultimately "regret" labeling the health care reform law "Obamacare."

"I'm convinced at the end of this decade, the Republicans are going to regret terming this Obamacare," Plouffe said on Fox News Sunday.

He defended the various benefits the law provides Americans now and upon full implementation.

Grilled by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, White House senior adviser David Plouffe reaffirmed President Obama's commitment to domestic oil production, but accused Republicans of dismissing clean energy sources, which he said must be part of the solution.

"This used to be a very bipartisan idea, alternative energy," Plouffe said. "Sadly, the Republicans running for president -- many Republicans here in Washington -- kind of vilify this. Almost mock it. And it's only going to determine our future. It's a very dangerous thing."

It hasn't received nearly as much attention as the other main legal challenge to the health care law. But next Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the Affordable Care Act's expansion of the Medicaid program is too coercive to states, and thus violates the Constitution.

If upheld, the states' far-reaching argument could invalidate decades of government programs. The law requires states that accept federal matching funds for Medicaid to expand that program to cover everyone under 133 percent of the poverty line. That may sound like an onerous burden for state governments, many of which are already stretched extremely thin. But the federal government will be picking up most of the tab for the expansion. So the argument essentially boils down to this: The new Medicaid funds Congress is giving us to insure more of our residents is too good an offer to pass up, and should therefore be struck down.

"What they're basically saying is, you're making us a deal that we can't refuse because it's such a good deal. And therefore it's unconstitutional," Tim Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, and supporter of the health care law, told TPM. "I mean just to state the argument shows how ridiculous it is."

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Democrats are reigniting their public relations efforts ahead of Friday's second anniversary of the health care reform law. But the nature of the messaging renaissance also exposes the political vulnerability for Democrats, who have been outmatched in the public opinion battle by the sheer ferocity of the unabated Republican assault on their landmark achievement.

This week House Democrats held three events touting the law's benefits, specifically for women and young adults, and broadly for the public at large. But all of the members present at these events have either been party leaders who are well entrenched in their districts or Democrats who reside in safe districts and have little reason to worry.

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As expected, the GOP-led House voted Thursday to repeal the Medicare cost-cutting Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), by a margin of 223-181. The bill was funded by a medical malpractice reform measure.

Seven Democrats voted for repeal, while 10 Republicans voted against it.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it's expected to fail. The White House has threatened veto.

The House Budget Committee late Wednesday night narrowly passed the new Rep. Paul Ryan budget blueprint 19-18, after defeating a number of Democratic amendments aimed at scaling it back.

Democrats voted no and Republican Reps. Justin Amash (MI) and Tim Huelskamp (KS) joined them because they thought the plan didn't reduce the deficit quickly enough.

It could hit the floor as soon as next week.

TPMLivewire