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

This week Republicans will attempt to move the national political conversation back to a familiar theme with a series of attacks on President Obama over the national debt. The GOP released a web video Monday bashing his "broken promises" on the deficit and previewed a major speech Tuesday by likely presidential nominee Mitt Romney on the issue.

Divorced from context, the numbers are uncomfortable for the President and are ready-made for pointed partisan attacks. Under Obama's watch the national debt has risen from roughly $10 trillion to $15 trillion, a record high. But to what extent are his decisions while in office to blame? The answer: very little. The vast bulk of the debt is the result of policies enacted during the Bush administration coupled with automatic increases in federal spending and decreases in tax revenue triggered by the economic downturn.

Those are economic facts of life known to experts but that often gets lost in the political debate (and which Obama's opponents are willing to obscure). So with the GOP's push to return the deficit to the center of the political conversation, here's quick reminder of the basic facts that you may have forgotten.

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The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is set to mark up legislation on Wednesday that would ensure equal federal employee benefits for same-sex couples in domestic partnerships.

The bill -- S. 1910: Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act -- is sponsored by the committee's chairman, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), its ranking member, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and 21 other Democrats.

"The Senator expects this bipartisan bill to pass out of committee," a Lieberman aide told TPM in an email Monday.

The markup dovetails a conversation about gay rights sparked by President Obama's newfound support for same-sex marriage, which he announced last Wednesday. Republicans have refrained from making hay of the issue, and at least one respected GOP pollster warns that support for gay rights is rising at an accelerating rate.

According to a summary by Lieberman, "Under the bill, same-sex domestic partners of federal employees living together in a committed relationship would be eligible for health benefits, long-term care, Family and Medical Leave, and federal retirement benefits, among others."

A Senate Democratic aide tells TPM that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would be happy to work with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on his scaled-back DREAM Act, which he is preparing to release.

"Senator Reid is very open to working with Senator Rubio on immigration reform but as he said yesterday, we need to see a bill," the aide said Monday. "Senator Rubio's problem isn't the Senate. Senate leadership are ready to work with Senator Rubio to move forward on immigration reform. The question is, 'are John Boehner and Lamar Smith willing to do this'?"

As Reid did on Sunday, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the No. 2 and No. 3 Democrats, have also indicated they'd be willing to work with Rubio on his DREAM Act alternative, but want to see legislative language.

The Republican senator is angling to blame Dems for the likely failure of his proposal.

As he prepares to release his scaled-back version of the DREAM Act, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is simultaneously laying the groundwork to blame the White House for its impending failure -- and Democrats appear to be falling into his trap. It's election-year jujitsu for Rubio, who is helping the GOP court Hispanic voters and keeping the door open to the vice presidency.

"One of the things that has already been documented is that the White House has been -- the articles that have been written, two or three by now -- the White House has been calling in DREAM Act advocates and asking them, almost ordering them, not to work with me on this issue," Rubio told Laura Ingraham last Thursday on her radio show. "They have been counting on using this issue as a wedge issue in October to drive up turnout."

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A new statement from Yahoo begins:

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yahoo! Inc.(NASDAQ: YHOO) today announced that the Board of Directors has namedFred Amorosoas Chairman of the Board of Directors andRoss Levinsohnas interim Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. The Company also announced that its Board has reached an agreement withThird Point LLC("Third Point") to settle its pending proxy contest related to the Company's 2012 annual meeting of shareholders.

Mr. AmorosoreplacesRoy Bostock, who has stepped down from his role as Non-Executive Chairman in order to accelerate the leadership transition for the new Board.Mr. LevinsohnreplacesScott Thompson, former Chief Executive Officer, who has left the Company.      

Read the full statement here.

Republicans must evolve on gay rights or risk political extinction, a top GOP pollster warns leading establishment figures in a revealing new memo.

Jan van Lohuizen, who polled for President George W. Bush in 2004, finds that support for gay rights -- including same sex marriage -- is rising at an accelerated pace among members of all political affiliations. He calls on Republicans to acknowledge the shift in the way they talk about the issue.

The memo, reported by various news outlets, recommends that Republicans express their support for "equality under the law as a fundamental principle" because "freedom means freedom for everyone."

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Congress's top Democrat told the Spanish-language Univision network that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) ought to stop talking about his scaled-back DREAM Act and put his ideas to paper.

In an interview that aired Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) accused the freshman Republican of selling his proposal in a duplicitous manner. He said he's open to supporting it, although he was cold to the idea of omitting the promise of citizenship to DREAMers.

"I'm glad that Marco is doing something. I think that's significant," Reid said. "But the problem is, right now there has not been a single word put on paper, not a word. And remember, in anything we do in life, the devil is in the details. So let's see what Marco's going to come up with. ... If he has something better and it's something that I think is going to be okay, I will be happy to support it. But let's stop this nonsense of talking about it. He talks to one group this way, another group another way. Put it in writing."

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At All Things D, Kara Swisher reports:

Yahoo’s embattled CEO Scott Thompson (pictured here) is set to step down from his job at the Silicon Valley Internet giant, in what will be dramatic end to a controversy over a fake computer science degree that he had on his bio, according to multiple sources close to the situation.

The company will apparently say he is leaving for “personal reasons.”

Read Swisher's full report here.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who represents a strong socially conservative district, signaled Sunday that Republicans won't make a big issue of same sex marriage in the 2012 election.

On ABC's This Week Sunday, she was asked about Rick Santorum's advice that Mitt Romney "step up" and use President Obama's support for gay marriage as a "weapon."

Her exchange with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Representative Blackburn, should Mitt Romney follow Rick Santorum's advice?

BLACKBURN:  I think that what you're going to see Mitt Romney do is put the focus on jobs and the economy.  And, George, you're talking about this is Mother's Day.  We've got nearly 858,000 women that have lost their jobs under this president.  And you have women that are concerned about the loss in household income under this president, nearly $4,000 per household.  Those are the issues that are first and foremost in front of people, is making certain that jobs and the economy is the focus. 

With that said, I think that you can go back and look at Supreme Court cases, you can look at the institution of marriage, and you know that Mitt Romney, who has always fought for traditional marriage, is going to continue to do this.  

RNC chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday ducked two questions about whether Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) recent controversial remark on gay marriage was appropriate.

"I don't know what Rand -- what he meant by that," Priebus said. "You know, I'm here to defend -- I'll defend the Republican Party and I can defend our nominee Mitt Romney."

Paul recently said of President Obama, "Call me cynical but I wasn't sure that his views on marriage could get any gayer."

Priebus reiterated that Republicans view marriage as a union between a man and a woman.