Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith is a NPR White House Correspondent. She is especially focused on matters related to the economy and the Federal budget.

Prior to moving into her current role in January 2014, she was a Congressional Correspondent covering Congress with an emphasis on the budget, taxes and the ongoing fiscal fights. During the Republican presidential primaries she covered Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, and traveled with Mitt Romney leading into the primaries in Colorado and Ohio, among other states. She began covering congress in August 2011.

Keith joined NPR in 2009 as a Business Reporter. In that role, she reported on topics spanning the business world from covering the debt downgrade and debt ceiling crisis to the latest in policy debates, legal issues and technology trends. In early 2010, she was on the ground in Haiti covering the aftermath of the country's disastrous earthquake and later she covered the oil spill in the Gulf. In 2011, Keith conceived and reported the 2011 NPR series The Road Back To Work, a year-long series featuring the audio diaries of six people in St. Louis who began the year unemployed and searching for work.

Keith has deep roots in public radio and got her start in news by writing and voicing essays for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday as a teenager. While in college, she launched her career at NPR Member Station KQED's California Report, covering topics including agriculture and the environment. In 2004, Keith began working at NPR Member Station WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, where she reported on politics and the 2004 presidential campaign.

Keith went back to California to open the state capital bureau for NPR Member Station KPCC/Southern California Public Radio. In 2006, Keith returned to KQED, serving as the Sacramento-region reporter for two years.

In 2001, Keith began working on B-Side Radio, an hour-long public radio show and podcast that she co-founded, produced, hosted, edited, and distributed for nine years.

Over the course of her career Keith has been the recipient of numerous accolades, including an award for best news writing from the APTRA California/Nevada and a first place trophy from the Society of Environmental Journalists for "Outstanding Story Radio." Keith was a 2010-2011 National Press Foundation Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow.

Keith earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree at the UCB Graduate School of Journalism. Tamara is also a member of the Bad News Babes, a media softball team that once a year competes against female members of Congress in the Congressional Women's Softball game.

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It's All Politics
4:42 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

In Key Senate Races, Outside Groups Outpace Candidates' Ad Spending

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (right), D-Ohio, debates his Republican challenger, Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, at the City Club in Cleveland on Oct. 15.
Tony Dejak AP

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 5:52 pm

Most of the attention heading into Election Day may be on the presidential race, but the stakes are also high in the battle for the U.S. Senate, where there are close contests in about a dozen states.

According to an NPR analysis of Kantar Media CMAG data, outside groups are spending more than $100 million blanketing the airwaves. This won't come as a surprise if you live in a state with a competitive Senate race.

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It's All Politics
2:20 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Economists: Romney's 12 Million Jobs Target Realistic, Even If He Loses

Alan Shull attends a job fair in Portland, Ore., on April 24.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 3:57 pm

As the election draws closer, the economy and jobs remain top issues in the presidential race.

President Obama points to the improvement in the labor market since he took office in the midst of a downward spiral.

Both he and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have five-point plans for improving the economy, although their strategies differ.

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Politics
2:39 am
Wed October 17, 2012

How Will Sequestration Effect The Federal Budget

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 11:41 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And now let's go to our latest installment in the series Fiscal Cliff Notes.

(SOUNDBITES OF ARCHIVED AUDIO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: On January 1st, 2013 there's going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...painful cuts to the Defense Department, food safety, education...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: ...the Bush tax cuts, the payroll tax cuts...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Taxmageddon.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: It's a cliff.

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Fiscal Cliff Notes
1:24 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Could Hit Civilian Pentagon Workers First

A Marine Corp F-35B Joint Strike Fighter lands at Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland in 2011. Analysts say that if mandatory Pentagon budget cuts are imposed next year, fewer new planes could ultimately be ordered.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 12:23 pm

Unless Congress acts, the Defense Department faces some $55 billion in cuts after the first of the year. The cuts are part of what's known as sequestration — automatic across the board spending cuts to both defense and nondefense government spending set in motion by last year's debt-ceiling fight.

Salaries for uniformed personnel are the one major thing that's protected. Otherwise, it's about a 10 percent cut to everything from Pentagon civilian staff to the acquisition of multimillion-dollar aircraft, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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Fiscal Cliff Notes
1:31 am
Mon October 1, 2012

For High Earners, Expiring Tax Cuts Would Hit Hard

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 3:22 pm

This story is part of our occasional series Fiscal Cliff Notes.

If the Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire, the majority of Americans will see their taxes rise. Those who will see the largest increase are the wealthy.

Dr. Hamilton Lempert, an emergency room doctor in Cincinnati, works almost exclusively on overnight shifts.

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It's All Politics
12:47 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Payroll Tax Holiday May Not Survive Year's End

The Social Security tax rate is scheduled to revert to 6.2 percent next year, up from the temporary reduction — to 4.2 percent on an employee's first $110,000 in wages — which has been in effect since January 2011.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 2:46 am

An occasional series, Fiscal Cliff Notes breaks down the looming "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and deep automatic spending cuts set to hit around the first of year.

If you work, you've probably been getting this tax break: Since January 2011, the government has knocked 2 percentage points off the payroll tax.

For someone making $50,000 a year, the payroll tax holiday works out to about $20 a week.

"We definitely notice it," says Steve Warner of Winter Haven, Fla., while on vacation with his family recently in the nation's capital.

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It's All Politics
10:15 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Twitter And The New Mom: Keeping Up With Politics, 140 Characters At A Time

Twitter.com

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 10:46 am

Note: We've asked NPR journalists to share their top five (or so) political Twitter accounts, and we're featuring the series on #FollowFriday. Here are recommendations from Tamara Keith (@tamarakeithNPR), an NPR congressional reporter.

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It's All Politics
11:13 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Obama Would Pay More — Romney, A Lot More — If Bush-Era Tax Cuts End

President George W. Bush signs tax cut legislation on June 7, 2001. The cuts from this and a subsequent bill are set to expire at the end of 2012.
Stephen Jaffe AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 1:42 pm

An occasional series, Fiscal Cliff Notes breaks down the looming "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and deep automatic spending cuts set to hit around the first of year.


About 80 percent of Americans would see their taxes go up if all the tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush were to expire as scheduled at the end of this year. And nearly 100 percent of the highest income earners would have to pay more — including both the Obamas and the Romneys.

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It's All Politics
3:42 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

New Questions About Timing Of Romney's Bain Departure

Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign stop in Roxbury, Mass., on Thursday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 8:37 am

The Boston Globe reported new details Friday about Mitt Romney's lingering ties to his private equity firm, Bain Capital, after he left Boston to run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The Globe says Romney was "not merely an absentee owner" between 1999 and 2002, despite financial disclosure forms that say he "has not been involved in the operations" of Bain Capital "in any way," for more than a dozen years.

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Election 2012
1:57 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Bush Tax Cuts: The New Middle-Class Norm

Josh Walling and Randi Cartmill with their children, Jacqueline, Josh and Ryan. Josh Walling says his family, whose household income is below the national median, would lose a substantial amount of money if the Bush tax cuts expired.
Courtesy of Randi Cartmill

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 12:42 pm

The first in an occasional series, Fiscal Cliff Notes, which breaks down the looming "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and deep automatic spending cuts set to hit around the first of year.

Much of the political focus when discussing the Bush-era tax cuts is on the wealthy, but they're not the only ones who would be affected if the tax cuts are allowed to expire at the end of this year.

The vast majority of American taxpayers would take a hit, including Randi Cartmill and Josh Walling, who live in Madison, Wis., with their three children.

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Politics
2:09 am
Mon July 9, 2012

GOP To Make 31st Attempt To Repeal Obamacare Act

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 11:00 am

The House Rules Committee takes up a bill Monday called the "Repeal of Obamacare Act." And just like it says, the bill would wipe away the president's Affordable Care Act. A vote of the full House is planned for Wednesday.

It's the first legislative response from House Republicans after the Supreme Court upheld the law. But it is far from the first time the GOP has voted for repeal.

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Economy
4:00 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Defense Giant Says Budget Cuts Could Mean Pink Slips

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin says it will be forced to send notices of possible layoffs to its entire workforce if proposed federal budget cuts go into effect.
Tom Pennington AP

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 6:58 am

Just imagine the political fallout: Nov. 2, only days before the election, tens of thousands — maybe hundreds of thousands — of workers receive letters warning that they could be out of a job.

That's exactly what some in the defense industry say will happen if Congress doesn't act soon to reverse sequestration — the across-the-board spending cuts that take effect in January if Congress doesn't agree on a plan to cut the deficit.

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Energy
3:21 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Senate Votes To Keep Mercury Limits On Power Plants

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 4:23 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The Senate has narrowly rejected an effort to scrap tough limits on mercury emitted from power plants. The Obama administration has trumpeted the rules affecting coal-burning power plants as an environmental triumph. But to industry groups, and many Republicans, these rules are the latest salvo in a war against coal. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

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It's All Politics
1:51 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

California's Top-Two Primary System Faces First Statewide Test

Abel Maldonado, a former California state senator and current congressional candidate, pushed for the change to the top-two primary system. He says he thinks the system will lead to "more open-minded and more reasonable" officials.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 4, 2012 3:45 pm

When voters go to the polls in California's primary on Tuesday, instead of only being able to vote for candidates in their own party, they will be able to vote for anyone they please.

Tuesday will be the first statewide test of California's new open primary system, where the top two candidates move on to the general election, regardless of party. Backers hope this system will favor moderates.

In California, there aren't very many purple areas. The state has strongly Democratic regions and strongly Republican regions — and the Democrats dominate.

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It's All Politics
2:02 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Sophomoric? Members Of Congress Talk Like 10th Graders, Analysis Shows

Congress, shown gathered for President Obama's State of the Union in January, is speaking at about a grade level lower now than in 2005, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 1:30 pm

Members of Congress are often criticized for what they do — or rather, what they don't do.

But what about what they say and, more specifically, how they say it? It turns out that the sophistication of congressional speech-making is on the decline, according to the open government group the Sunlight Foundation. Since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade.

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It's All Politics
3:11 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Lugar's Last Race: Indiana Senator Doesn't Take Defeat Sitting Down

Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., crosses the finish line of the 3-mile Capital Challenge charity race with Olympic marathoner Meb Keflezighi. It was Lugar's 31st race, and his last as a senator after he lost a primary challenge this month.
Javaun Moradi NPR

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 5:34 pm

The partisan divisions on Capitol Hill are numerous — but Wednesday morning, about two-dozen members of Congress did something entirely nonpartisan. They ran in a 3-mile race for charity, along with their staffs and teams from the executive and judicial branches and the media (including NPR).

The ACLI Capital Challenge is an annual tradition that dates back to 1981, and one senator has run the race every time: Dick Lugar, R-Ind. But Wednesday's race was also his last.

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Election 2012
2:09 am
Tue May 15, 2012

JPMorgan's Loss A Gain For Campaign Positioning

The U.S. and JPMorgan Chase flags wave outside its headquarters in New York on Friday.
Eduardo Munoz Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 7:51 am

The fallout from banking giant JPMorgan Chase's $2 billion — and counting — loss has made its way into the presidential campaign. The president and presumptive GOP challenger Mitt Romney have very different views about the regulation of Wall Street, in particular the Dodd-Frank financial systems overhaul law.

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Mitt Romney
4:41 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Romney Shifts Gears On Auto Industry Bailout

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives for a town hall-style meeting at Stamco Industries, a truck parts supplier, in Euclid, Ohio, on Monday.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 4:52 pm

Mitt Romney is from Michigan, a state he has said he hopes to win in November. But the likely Republican presidential nominee has very publicly opposed the government bailout of the auto industry.

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Politics
3:14 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Candidates Forced To Juggle Inconsistent Economic Data

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 5:10 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, the presidential election is expected to turn on the economy, which means that every bit of economic news takes on political significance. Trouble is, we don't always know what to make of it when we hear that unemployment claims fell again. Sounds good. Or that the trade deficit jumped. Not so good. NPR's Tamara Keith and Scott Horsley will now help us sort that out.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Whatever story you want to tell about the U.S. economy, you can find some data points to make your case.

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Politics
2:35 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Sen. Lugar's 36-Year Career Ends With Primary Loss

Republican Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana has lost his bid for re-election. In Tuesday's primary, he was defeated by Tea Party challenger Richard Mourdock.

Election 2012
3:26 pm
Mon May 7, 2012

Uphill Climb For Veteran Lugar In Tuesday Primary

Republican Sen. Richard Lugar (right) and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock participate in an April 11 debate in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings AP

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 6:26 am

In Indiana, Republican primary voters Tuesday will decide whether to give GOP Sen. Richard Lugar the opportunity to seek a seventh term in November's general election. A recent independent poll shows him in trouble in his own party, with his Tea Party-backed opponent, Richard Mourdock, in the lead.

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House & Senate Races
4:37 am
Sat May 5, 2012

Lugar Struggles In Race Flooded By Outside Spending

U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., speaks to reporters on Monday in South Bend, Ind.
James Brosher AP

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 8:26 am

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NPR Story
2:41 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Florida Senator Promotes New Dream Act

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 5:39 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Here's one thing Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio did not address at that meeting today. It's an idea Rubio has floated recently: an alternative to the DREAM Act. That's the measure backed by the White House which would create a path to citizenship for young people brought to the country illegally so long as they go to college or serve in the military. The bill never made it out of Congress. NPR's Tamara Keith explains Rubio's version.

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It's All Politics
3:43 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Most Small Businesses Don't Quite Fit The Political Picture

Angela Caragan's A Cupcake Co. offers gourmet cupcakes for special events. Like more than 20 million other small-business owners in the U.S., she has no employees.
Courtesy of Angela Caragan

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 4:28 pm

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on a GOP measure to cut taxes on small businesses.

Now, the mental image most of us have of a small business is probably something like this: a handful of employees, a shop, maybe a restaurant or a little tech firm.

It turns out the reality of the nation's 28 million small businesses is, in many cases, quite different.

House Republicans say their tax cut would help millions of small businesses.

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It's All Politics
12:57 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Small Businesses Get Big Political Hype. What's The Reality?

Tourists walk near shops in the Maine seaside village of Northeast Harbor.
Dina Rudick Boston Globe via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 6:46 am

The House is scheduled to vote this week on a small-business tax cut bill offered up by Republicans. It's just the latest piece of legislation to focus on small businesses, which are widely praised in the political discourse as engines of job creation. The adoration is nearly universal — and it reflects something beyond economic reality.

"Small businesses create 2 out of every 3 jobs in this economy, so our recovery depends on them," President Obama said in 2012 at a New Jersey sandwich shop where he met with small-business owners.

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Million-Dollar Donors
2:59 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

SuperDonor Backs Romney — And Gay Marriage

Hedge fund manager Paul Singer of Elliott Management has donated $1 million to Mitt Romney's superPAC.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 4:15 pm

When it comes to campaign money, there's one industry GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney can count on: finance.

Some of the single largest checks to the pro-Romney superPAC Restore Our Future come from hedge fund managers. People at securities and investment firms have contributed more than $16 million.

Paul Singer, the man behind the hedge fund Elliott Management, has contributed $1 million.

As of Dec. 31, Elliott Management had $19.2 billion in assets, making it one of the nation's largest hedge funds.

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Politics
2:00 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Congressional Panels Probe Lavish GSA Spending

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 4:56 am

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep, good morning.

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Election 2012
1:32 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Longtime GOP Sen. Lugar Faces Stiff Tea Party Fight

Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (right) speaks with potential voters on March 31 in Evansville, Ind.
Tamara Keith NPR

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 7:03 am

Six-term Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana is facing his first primary challenge since winning the job in the 1970s. The race is attracting big money from outside groups and superPACs, and is seen as a test of the strength of the Tea Party movement versus the power of incumbency.

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It's All Politics
3:26 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

As A Politician, Romney's Long Had Trouble Talking Cars

Mitt Romney has had issues in this campaign with cars.

You may remember his "two Cadillacs" comment in February, immediately characterized as a gaffe for a candidate who has often seemed to struggle with how to address his wealth on the trail.

"I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles," said Romney in Michigan. "I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann [his wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually."

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Mitt Romney
2:04 am
Mon April 2, 2012

On Energy Policy, Romney's Emphasis Has Shifted

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns in Muskego, Wis., on Saturday.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 9:24 am

The GOP candidates for president have seized on high gas prices as a line of attack against President Obama, largely saying the answer is more domestic oil drilling.

But GOP front-runner Mitt Romney used to have a position seemingly at odds — at least in emphasis — with what he and the other Republicans are now advocating.

As Massachusetts governor, Romney said high gasoline prices "are probably here to stay," and he advocated policies to cut energy demand.

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