Mara Liasson

Mara Liasson is the national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.

Each election year, Liasson provides key coverage of the candidates and issues in both presidential and congressional races. During her tenure she has covered six presidential elections — in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. Prior to her current assignment, Liasson was NPR's White House correspondent for all eight years of the Clinton administration. She has won the White House Correspondents Association's Merriman Smith Award for daily news coverage in 1994, 1995, and again in 1997. From 1989-1992 Liasson was NPR's congressional correspondent.

Liasson joined NPR in 1985 as a general assignment reporter and newscaster. From September 1988 to June 1989 she took a leave of absence from NPR to attend Columbia University in New York as a recipient of a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism.

Prior to joining NPR, Liasson was a freelance radio and television reporter in San Francisco. She was also managing editor and anchor of California Edition, a California Public Radio nightly news program, and a print journalist for The Vineyard Gazette in Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Liasson is a graduate of Brown University where she earned a bachelor's degree in American history.

It's only April, but it looks and sounds like October. More than $80 million has been spent on political advertising in only about a dozen Senate battleground states.

In a high-rise office in Rosslyn, Va., Adam Parkhomenko is selling campaign paraphernalia for a campaign that may or may not happen.

"Bumper stickers, magnets, and then we have everything from T-shirts, we have baby onesies that we're almost out of now," says Parkhomenko.

Parkhomenko runs a group called Ready for Hillary. It's more than a Clinton fan club: It's a superPAC, a list-building superPAC.

A new bipartisan NPR poll shows approval numbers rising for Obamacare — which is now slightly more popular than its namesake.

Our survey of likely voters, conducted for Morning Edition by Democrat Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps and Republican Whit Ayres of Resurgent Republic, shows the president's health care law is still unpopular, but it might not be as heavy a millstone for Democrats as expected.

Democrats have had great success in recent presidential elections registering, targeting and turning out their core voters. Now they're hoping to use that sophisticated field operation to to stave off defeat in this year's midterm elections.

Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is visiting the White House Wednesday. The meeting comes days before a vote in Crimea over whether to secede from Ukraine.

The Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative activists, routinely attracts big names in the Republican party — and this year's no different. It starts Thursday.

Democrats and Republicans have exhausted themselves politically after failing to reach a grand bargain to reduce the debt. Now there's a new economic debate in Washington over economic growth, mobility and income inequality.

But without dealing with the debt, Republicans and Democrats might not be able to navigate even the issues they agree on.

Moving Away From The Deficit



Now, for more on the president's speech, we're joined by NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.


CORNISH: So listening to Jay Carney just now, what do you think is the president's overriding goal tonight?

Tuesday night is the State of the Union Address — the biggest opportunity President Obama gets all year to speak to the American people about his priorities. There's also another speech that night — the GOP response. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner announced Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington State would deliver the official rebuttal.



This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

This week, and in the coming year, we're marking the anniversary of a famous declaration. It's been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson called for an unconditional war on poverty in his first State of the Union Address after the assassination of President Kennedy.

It's not big enough to be called a shakeup, but the new hire announced this week at the White House is important: John Podesta will come on board in January as a counselor to the president.

Podesta is a Democratic wise man, the founder of the Center for American Progress, a policy and personnel incubator for Democratic administrations, and he just started a new think tank on income inequality — the problem President Obama says will animate his second term.

American politics is having a populist moment, with voters angry and frustrated with all big institutions in American life.

The backlash against big government found its expression on the right with the Tea Party. The tensions between that movement and the Republican establishment have been on full display.

Several states are trying to do something about so-called hyperpartisanship by changing the way congressional districts are drawn and the way elections are held.

Their goal: force members of Congress to pay more attention to general election voters than to their base voters on the right or left.

John Fortier, the director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, which is working on ways to make politics less dysfunctional, says U.S. political parties have become more polarized.

Here's an email that caught my eye Thursday. It's from Republican Bill McInturff, one of the best pollsters around and not someone known to hyperbolize. He was discussing the results of this month's NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, which he conducts with Democrat Peter Hart.



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep. More hearings come today on the messy rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will face questions from the House, Energy and Commerce Committee. Now, yesterday, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid testified before a different committee. Marilyn Tavenner offered consumers an apology for the problems at the health website.

On Thursday, President Obama met with Senate Democrats. Then he met with House Republicans. And White House staff members continued talks with their counterparts from the House GOP leadership. All that talking just a day after there was radio silence between the two parties. One strong possibility for the change in attitudes is a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that shows that the majority of Americans blame Republicans for the ongoing government shutdown and just 20 percent of people approve of the Republican party.

The standoff over the debt ceiling and the government shutdown showed signs of softening Thursday.

House Speaker John Boehner said he would bring a temporary hike in the debt ceiling to the House floor in exchange for negotiations on government spending and taxes. Democrats say if the House votes to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government, they will negotiate.



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

The nation has grown accustomed to political crisis manufactured in Washington.

INSKEEP: Americans and their leaders are less accustomed to the situation now. The drama leading up to the deadline for a government shutdown was familiar.

Day two of the government shutdown is nearing its finish, with no end in sight. And that's in spite of talks at the White House late today. President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner for over an hour Wednesday evening. The meeting failed to produce a deal that would end the federal government shutdown.

In the three years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, it has survived more than 50 votes in Congress to defund or repeal it, a Supreme Court challenge, a presidential election and, as of Tuesday morning, a government shutdown. Much of the spending for the law is mandatory and won't be cut off.

But now, it must survive its own implementation.

Tuesday is the day that Obamacare goes operational. Americans can begin signing up for health insurance on online marketplaces known as exchanges.

When she left the Obama administration, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she just wanted to sleep late and walk her dog. But that hasn't happened.

President Obama has had a tough year. He failed to pass gun legislation. Plans for an immigration overhaul have stalled in the House. He barely escaped what would have been a humiliating rejection by Congress on his plan to strike Syria.

Just this week, his own Democrats forced Larry Summers, the president's first choice to head the Federal Reserve, to withdraw.

Former Clinton White House aide Bill Galston says all these issues have weakened the unity of the president's coalition.



So where does this leave the Obama administration? For more on that, I'm joined by NPR's Mara Liasson. And Mara, what's the White House reaction been to this vote in the British Parliament tonight?



In Washington, D.C. the next election always seems just around the corner, even in the middle of summer when it seems a long way away to everyone else. Republicans are in the Senate minority today, but about now they're feeling confident about their prospects to pick up seats and maybe even regain the majority in 2014. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports.

The Republican Party seems like two parties these days. In the Senate, Republicans joined a two-thirds majority to pass an immigration bill. But in the House, Republicans are balking.

Strategist Alex Lundry says it's hard to figure out the way forward when your party's base of power is the House of Representatives.

"One problem we have in the wilderness is that there are a thousand chiefs," he says. "And it is hard to get a party moving when you don't have somebody at the top who is a core leader who can be directive."

All this week, NPR is taking a look at the demographic changes that could reshape the political landscape in Texas over the next decade — and what that could mean for the rest of the country.

With the two parties in Washington gridlocked on immigration, the budget and other issues, it's easy to forget that when it comes to winning presidential elections, one party has a distinct advantage.

When a former IT contractor at the National Security Agency gave The Guardian U.S. government surveillance information, he told the paper that his only motivation was to spark a public debate about government surveillance.

"This is something that's not our place to decide," Edward Snowden said. "The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong."



President Obama travels to Mooresville, North Carolina today. He'll highlight the town's middle school and its focus on technology and digital learning. It's part of what the White House is calling the president's Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. Jobs and education are big issues for younger voters, one of the most sought after demographics for both parties.

NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

President Obama turns his attention back to his economic agenda Thursday when he travels to Austin, Texas, where he will visit a technology high school and a company that makes the machines that make silicon chips.

The White House says the trip is part of Obama's Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. It also appears to be an effort by the president to get back to the issues Americans care most about.



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

It's one of the basic lessons in school - how a bill becomes a law - sounds so finite. Of course the part they don't always teach is how the political debate over a law can just keep going. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is now the law of the land. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.

But as NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports, the fight of the law will likely just intensify ahead of the next elections.