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

Senate Democrats are teeing up a vote on the "Buffett Rule" legislation on the eve of Tax Day, and are pledging to push the issue all year as a defining contrast between the parties ahead of the election.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled the cloture vote for April 16, one day before taxes are due, on legislation that would require people making over $1 million to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

"We're going to continue pushing this issue all year long. It's an emerging contrast with Republicans," said No. 3 Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) on a conference call with reporters Thursday. He said Dems intend to hammer the fact that Republicans want to give even bigger tax cuts to high earners while forcing the middle class to hold the bag.

Read More →

Paul Clement, the lawyer for the Republican-led states challenging "Obamacare," played a key role years ago, when representing the Bush White House, in expanding the same federal power that's now the constitutional basis for the health care reform law. Today his clients have different interests, and the 180-degree flip in his reasoning underscores an inconsistency in Republican views of the Constitution.

As the Bush administration's solicitor general in 2004, Clement argued before the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Raich that Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce is broad enough to override state laws permitting medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis for personal consumption. Notably, two of the justices he won over in the the 6-3 decision were Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia.

Read More →

Mitt Romney made a series of claims Wednesday that distort President Obama's positions on Medicare, an indication that he's sticking with an earlier, misleading line of attack as he gets closer to winning the Republican nomination for president.

"I'd be willing to consider the president's plan, but he doesn't have one. That's right: In over three years, he has failed to enact or even propose a serious plan to solve our entitlement crisis," Romney said in a speech to the Newspaper Association of America in Washington, D.C. "Instead, he has taken a series of steps that end Medicare as we know it. He is the only president to ever cut $500 billion from Medicare. And, as a result, more than half of doctors say they will cut back on treating seniors."

Read More →

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that the Department of Justice "will be responding to the request for a letter" by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals about President Obama's remarks.

Carney dismissed the notion that Obama was questioning whether the Supreme Court could strike down laws that it deems unconstitutional, the subject of the the letter the court demanded. He pointed out that the president was merely arguing that his health care reform law gibes with longstanding precedent.

"What the president said both yesterday and the day before was -- what he did was make an unremarkable observation about 80 years of Supreme Court history," he said. "Since the 1930s, the Supreme Court has without exception deferred to congress when it comes to Congress' authority to pass legislation to regulate matters of national economic importance such as healthcare. Eighty years plus. That is an observation and not a particularly remarkable one. It is a statement of fact."

Watch the video of Carney's remarks at Wednesday's daily briefing.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi predicted Monday that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of the Affordable Care Act. 

"I'm predicting 6-3 in favor," Pelosi said at a New York private luncheon hosted by the Paley Center for Media. "I have confidence that if we're talking about the law of the land and our compliance with it, that we will be okay."

You're the chief justice of the United States, and you're presented with a choice: Either rebuke the political movement that gave you your dream job, or put your institution's reputation on the line by neutering a sitting president's signature legislation for the first time in 75 years.

This is the unenviable dilemma John Roberts faces as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on "Obamacare." Initial votes were cast by the justices last Friday, and a final decision on the law's constitutionality is expected by the end of June. And with four liberal justices considered a lock to uphold the law, Roberts is uniquely positioned to determine the law's fate, and faces considerable risks no matter what he chooses.

Read More →

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday accused President Obama of seeking to "imtimidate" and "browbeat" the Supreme Court into upholding his health care reform law.

The senator is capitalizing on conservative pushback against Obama's remarks Monday, in which he argued the Affordable Care Act is backed by longstanding precedent and tacitly warned the court to refrain from "judicial activism."

McConnell's full statement:

"Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare’s unprecedented mandate on the American people, elected leaders have an obligation to protect our system of checks and balances. The President, more than anyone else, has an obligation to uphold the legitimacy of our judicial system. But his remarks on the Court reflect not only an attempt to influence the outcome, but a preview of Democrat attacks to come if they don’t get their way.

"Only someone who would browbeat the Court during the State of the Union, and whose administration stifled speech during the health care debate, would try to intimidate the Court while it's deliberating one of the most consequential cases of our time.  This president's attempt to intimidate the Supreme Court falls well beyond distasteful politics; it demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for our system of checks and balances."

At a New York event about encouraging more women to run for public office, retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) criticized her party's recent battle over contraception coverage.

From a report by the Huffington Post's Matt Sledge:

Just a few years ago, Snowe recalled, she stood with President Barack Obama as he signed the Fair Pay Act named after Ledbetter. The political debate today "comes to contraceptive coverage," Snowe said.

"You know, it really is surprising, because I feel like it's a retro-debate that took place in the 1950s," Snowe said. "It's sort of back to the future, isn't it? And it is surprising in the 21st century we would be revisiting this issue. And Sandra Fluke should have been commended, not condemned, for her courage in expressing her own views and beliefs before members of Congress."

Republicans have a message on their plan to privatize Medicare: It's bipartisan. Democrats have a counter-message: Hell no, it's not.

As the GOP works to portray Rep. Paul Ryan's blueprint for Medicare as bipartisan, Democrats are working equally hard to keep their fingerprints off it. Dem operatives see the proposal -- which in 10 years would begin phasing out the existing program and replacing it with a subsidized exchange where seniors can shop for plans -- as a huge opportunity in the elections. House Republicans passed the plan last week without a single Democratic vote.

Now, Republicans are pushing to box in Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as a former supporter of the "premium support" concept.

Read More →

Today the presidential gloves really come off.

In a Tuesday speech hosted by the Associated Press in Washington, D.C., President Obama will deliver a broadside to the House-passed Republican budget, which calls for upending Medicare and making deep cuts to domestic social programs. Obama will describe it as a dark vision for America and draw a clear contrast with his campaign themes of reducing inequality and asking the wealthy to help pay down the nation's debt.

Read More →