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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6:07am

Sat October 26, 2013
Politics

Pondering A Presidential Run? Cruz Dines In Iowa

Originally published on Sat October 26, 2013 9:19 am

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks on Friday during the Republican Party of Iowa's Reagan Dinner in Des Moines.
Scott Morgan AP

Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican and Tea-Party darling, was in Iowa Friday headlining a fundraising dinner for the state Republican Party. It was Cruz's third visit to Iowa in as many months, but this time was different.

It was his first time back since the government shutdown and his 21-hour, anti-Obamacare talkathon that preceded it — events that catapulted him from junior senator to a conservative hero and household name.

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12:56am

Thu October 10, 2013
Business

When It Comes To Jobs, Not All Small Businesses Make It Big

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 2:38 pm

Sweetgreen co-founders Nathaniel Ru (from left), Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet at the opening of a Virginia location last year.
Courtesy of Sweetgreen

Part of a series about small businesses in America

When it comes to job creation, politicians talk about small businesses as the engines of the U.S. economy. It's been a familiar refrain among politicians from both major parties for years.

But it obscures the economic reality. It makes a nice slogan, but it's not really accurate to say that small businesses produce most of the nation's new jobs, says John Haltiwanger, an economics professor at the University of Maryland.

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4:51pm

Wed October 9, 2013
It's All Politics

GOP Shutdown Strategy Gives House A Twilight Zone Feel

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., holds a news conference Oct. 3 with the GOP Doctors Caucus — members of the House who are medical professionals by training — to talk about how the government shutdown is affecting medical research.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

With little progress being made to resolve the government shutdown, House Republicans have decided on a piecemeal strategy.

They have been voting to reopen small pieces of the government — for example, on Wednesday, they approved bills paying for the Federal Aviation Administration and for death benefits to the families of service members.

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3:17am

Thu October 3, 2013
Politics

Why A Handful Of Hard-Liners Has A Hold On Boehner

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 10:53 am

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to the media after a meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

To understand House Speaker John Boehner's role in the government shutdown, you have to understand the 30 or so House Republican hard-liners and his relationship with them.

It's an uneasy one at best.

"Listen, we've got a diverse caucus," was how Boehner put it in mid-September, shortly after the 30 forced him to ditch his original plan for a temporary government funding bill.

"Whenever we're trying to put together a plan, we've got 233 members — all of whom have their own plan," he said. "It's tough to get them on the same track. We got there."

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6:22pm

Mon September 30, 2013
NPR Story

Senate Rejects House Spending Bill

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 8:09 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And on Capitol Hill, words of anger and frustration today over the increasing likelihood of a government shutdown. This morning in the House, members of both parties took to the floor and pointed fingers.

REPRESENTATIVE EARL BLUMENAUER: If you're serious about working together to solve problems, why don't you work together to solve problems?

REPRESENTATIVE TED POE: Where oh where has the Senate gone? Where oh where can they be? With time so short and issues so long, where oh where has the Senate gone?

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5:46am

Sat September 21, 2013
Politics

What's Next In The Congressional Budget Showdown?

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 9:34 am

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks at a Republican rally Friday after the House passed a measure that would temporarily fund the government while crippling President Obama's health care law. The Senate is not expected to follow suit.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The House has passed a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government open through Dec. 15. It passed almost entirely along party lines: In addition to funding the government, it calls for defunding of the Affordable Care Act.

The White House has said President Obama would veto the bill, were it to come to his desk in this form. And it most likely won't. Democrats, who control the Senate, won't pass a bill that defunds Obamacare.

Which raises the question, now what?

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1:28am

Fri September 20, 2013
It's All Politics

House Nears Vote To Fund Government, Defund Obamacare

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 9:18 am

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, talks about the deadline to fund the government Thursday on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The Republican-controlled House is set to vote Friday on a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open for business through the middle of December. And the White House has already said if it makes it to the president's desk, he'll veto it. That's because the bill also would defund the Affordable Care Act.

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10:03am

Tue September 17, 2013
It's All Politics

CBO Report Warns Of Long-Term Debt Problems

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 2:04 pm

Copies of President Obama's proposed budget plan for fiscal year 2014 are prepared for delivery at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington in April 2013.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

There's plenty of fodder for deficit hawks in a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In short, the future looks grim.

The 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook finds that although in the short term the deficit is expected to decline, it will grow again — and, ultimately, in a big way.

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5:47am

Sat September 14, 2013
National Security

Medea Benjamin's Anti-War Activism: Wearing Pink, Seeing Red

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 9:49 am

A Code Pink protester holds up a red-painted hand behind Secretary of State John Kerry as he testifies on Capitol Hill on Sept. 4 about possible military strikes on Syria.
Carolyn Kaster AP

As the Obama administration made its case for military action in Syria, one of the loudest voices in opposition came from Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink.

You may not know her by name, but if you follow national politics, you've no doubt seen her work.

At the House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this month, for instance, as Secretary of State John Kerry made the case for a military strike in Syria, Medea Benjamin sat behind him, holding up her hands, painted bright red.

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2:39am

Fri September 13, 2013
Politics

Without Action, Government Will Shut Down At Month's End

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 3:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, the future shape of the economy will be influenced, in part, by negotiations in Congress this month. What could possibly go wrong? If Congress doesn't act by the end of this month, there will be a partial government shutdown and then in October a fight over the debt ceiling looms. Some Republicans want to rerun a tactic they used in 2011, refusing to borrow to pay for commitments Congress previously made unless the White House agrees to Republican budget demands. NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith has the latest.

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4:57pm

Wed September 11, 2013
Politics

Conservatives Use Budget Deadline To Revive Obamacare Debate

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 5:03 pm

Linda Norman (right) and Joanna Galt, both from Florida, hold their banners during a rally against the health care law Tuesday outside the U.S. Capitol.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

With the pause button pushed on the congressional debate over Syria, the House is turning its attention back to the issue that is expected to dominate the fall: the budget.

The long-running fight over spending and the debt is back. The House was supposed to act this week to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, and leaders had hoped to avoid drama. But the vote has been delayed, and drama is brewing.

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1:43am

Mon August 26, 2013
It's All Politics

In Arkansas, The Senate Battle Is Already Brutal

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 3:03 am

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., speaks at the Rice Expo in Stuttgart, Ark., on Aug. 2.
Danny Johnston AP

3:11pm

Thu August 15, 2013
Politics

Floor Charts A Key Part Of Congressional Messaging

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 4:02 pm

Watch C-SPAN long enough and you'll see members of Congress using big visual aids, known by Capitol insiders as floor charts. We explore where the charts come from and how they've become an essential part of congressional messaging. (This piece originally aired on Morning Edition on July 23.)

2:46pm

Wed August 7, 2013
It's All Politics

4 Years After Fiery Town Halls, Activists Try To Revive Spark

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:24 am

Members of the audience argue before a town hall forum on the health care overhaul hosted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, in Reston, Va., on Aug. 25, 2009.
Charles Dharapak AP

It's been four years since protests of the president's health care agenda boiled over in town hall meetings around the country.

The summer of 2009 marked the rise of the Tea Party movement and set in motion the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives the following year.

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1:29am

Tue August 6, 2013
It's All Politics

On The Road With Max And Dave: A Tax Overhaul Tour

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 7:18 am

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., (center) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., (right) speak about overhauling the tax code at the 3M Innovation Center in Maplewood, Minn., on July 8.
Hannah Foslien AP

Ask Americans about the most pressing concerns for the nation, and overhauling the tax code probably isn't all that high on the list — that is, unless those Americans happen to be Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairmen of the congressional tax-writing committees.

The two lawmakers are on a mission to simplify the tax code.

When they're out on the road selling that tax overhaul, they don't wear ties and they skip much of the formality of Washington — like last names even. Just call them Max and Dave.

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12:59am

Tue July 23, 2013
Politics

How Floor Charts Became Stars Of Congress

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 9:26 am

http://senatecharts.tumblr.com/

Watch C-SPAN long enough, and you'll see members of Congress using visual aids: big, brightly colored poster boards, known on Capitol Hill as floor charts.

They've become an essential part of congressional messaging.

Almost every day the House of Representatives is in session, lawmakers line up to give what are known as one-minute speeches. Florida Democrat Frederica Wilson is always there.

And she always has her floor chart with her. It displays the number of days since Wilson came to Congress and the number of Americans unemployed.

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5:02pm

Tue July 16, 2013
The Two-Way

READ: The Theft Complaint Filed Against Bachmann Aide

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 10:11 am

Two envelopes filled with cash. A hidden camera. The office of a high-profile politician.

Sounds like a John Grisham novel.

The end result? Maybe not so dramatic.

As NPR's Tamara Keith tells us:

A now-former staffer for Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has been arrested for allegedly stealing cash from the desk drawer of a co-worker.

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12:30am

Sun July 14, 2013
News

A Bipartisan Duo Takes Tax Pitch On The Road

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 12:11 pm

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. left, and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., speak about overhauling tax policy to an audience at the 3M tech company on Monday.
Hannah Foslien AP

Congress is setting up for a showdown this fall on the budget, the debt ceiling and possibly immigration.

But another item on the agenda hasn't been getting as much attention: changing tax policy. The chairmen of the two tax-writing committees have been working for years, holding hearings, releasing white papers, even hosting bipartisan tax chat lunches at a pub — often with little notice.

Dave Camp is a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Max Baucus is a Montana Democrat and leads the Senate Finance Committee.

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5:16am

Sat July 13, 2013
Politics

If The IRS Targeted The Left, Too, Will The House Hear It?

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 11:43 am

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He's released documents that suggest that the IRS targeted progressives as well as Tea Party groups.
Alex Wong Getty Images

The House Oversight Committee will hold its latest hearing next week into how the IRS handled the applications of groups seeking tax exempt status. The hearings have morphed from a scandal over the targeting of Tea Party groups into something broader.

It all started when a report from IRS Inspector General J. Russell George said groups with Tea Party in their name were targeted for extra scrutiny for possible political activity. When asked if progressive groups were also targeted, he said no.

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8:07am

Fri July 12, 2013
It's All Politics

Top Democrat Says Documents Show IRS Also Targeted Liberals

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 10:04 am

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (right) speaks with the committee's ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, during a hearing last month.
Charles Dharapak AP

Newly released documents appear to further undermine the idea that Tea Party groups were the only ones given extra scrutiny by the IRS for potential political activity.

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