Frank James

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

"The Two-Way" is the place where gives readers breaking news and analysis — and engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

James came to NPR from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 20 years. In 2006, James created "The Swamp," the paper's successful politics and policy news blog whose readership climbed to a peak of 3 million page-views a month.

Before that, James covered homeland security, technology and privacy and economics in the Tribune's Washington Bureau. He also reported for the Tribune from South Africa and covered politics and higher education.

James also reported for The Wall Street Journal for nearly 10 years.

James received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Dickinson College and now serves on its board of trustees.

Tim Pawlenty made headlines Sunday but not the sort he had hoped to. He announced on ABC News' This Week that he has dropped out of the hunt for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination after coming in a disappointing third in Iowa's Ames Straw Poll.

His campaign, he said:

The front-runner for a major party's presidential nomination is always happiest when his intraparty rivals turn their attacks on each other instead of him.

So by that measure, Mitt Romney had to be very pleased indeed because he was left largely unmolested by the seven other Republican candidates contending for the party's presidential nomination at the debate at Iowa State University Thursday evening.

Based on everything we've seen so far in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, what should we expect from the candidates at Thursday's debate at Iowa State University in Ames?

In the two-hour Fox News/Iowa GOP debate to start at 9 pm ET, Mitt Romney, the frontrunner, will likely stick tightly to his message, which is that President Obama has failed to lead, and his approach, which is to play it safe.

Three lawmakers who are typically forceful advocates for a progressive agenda were picked by Rep. Nancy Pelosi to fill out the supercommittee that will propose more than $1 trillion in federal spending cuts meant to reduce federal deficits.

Pelosi, the House minority leader, chose representatives Jim Clyburn of S. Carolina, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Xavier Becerra of California to represent House Democrats on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

It was certainly closer than Wisconsin's Republicans would have preferred, but in the end they successfully repelled Democrats who sought to wrest away control of the state Senate and break GOP dominance over the Badger State's government.

Democrats fell one Senate seat short of the three they needed to take over that chamber in the state's largest recall election ever in which six seats were contested.

What Washington was worried about and what many Americans have been haunted by has seemed out of synch in recent weeks.

The fiery Washington debate was about the debt-ceiling, while the concerns of millions of Americans was about jobs, either finding or keeping one.

For Washington Democrats, the debt ceiling debate was a distraction from the jobs message they view as key to their re-election efforts.

Democrats may have yielded on their demand for tax increases to Republicans to achieve the the debt-ceiling deal President Obama signed into law Tuesday.

But Sen. Harry Reid had a warning for congressional Republicans when he talked Tuesday with Michele Norris, co-host of All Things Considered. Later this year when Congress has to decide on additional ways to cut federal deficits, Democrats intend to stand firm on the need for more tax revenues, the Senate minority leader said.

With the Senate's passage of the debt-ceiling legislation and President Obama having signed it Tuesday afternoon, the nation no longer needs to worry about defaultmageddon, at least not until early 2013 when the U.S. Treasury once again runs out of the room to borrow again.

But even though there wasn't a default, the fight left plenty of wreckage laying about.

Among the casualties was Obama. Yes, he seemed to have narrowly averted becoming the first president to have the nation default during his term.

How does Speaker John Boehner, on Friday, get to the 216 House votes he needs to pass the debt-ceiling bill he couldn't get the votes for on Thursday?

He agrees to add a balanced-budget amendment provision to his legislation.

That addition appears to be enough to swing some Republican lawmakers to his side who had previously been against his bill or undecided.

Just as the Washington narrative had started to shift a bit from "House Speaker John Boehner doesn't have the juice to get his conference to support him" to "Boehner is getting his fellow Republicans to rally around him" it shifts back to the former.

That's because he was unable to get enough members of the Republican conference to commit to voting for his debt-ceiling increase.