Danielle Kurtzleben

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. In her current role, she writes for npr.org's It's All Politics blog, focusing on data visualizations. In the run-up to the 2016 election, she will be using numbers to tell stories that go far beyond polling, putting policies into context and illustrating how they affect voters.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Kurtzleben spent a year as a correspondent for Vox.com. As part of the site's original reporting team, she covered economics and business news.

Prior to Vox.com, Kurtzleben was with U.S. News & World Report for nearly four years, where she covered the economy, campaign finance and demographic issues. As associate editor, she launched Data Mine, a data visualization blog on usnews.com.

A native of Titonka, Iowa, Kurtzleben has a bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College. She also holds a master's degree in Global Communication from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.

"Pretty aggressive." That's how one might describe some of Donald Trump's political rhetoric. (Consider that the word of the day on the campaign trail Tuesday was "schlonged.") It's also how former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin described Trump's tax plan in September, when the reality TV star released it.

Ted Cruz is introducing some voters to what he says is a new term in the fight over immigration: "undocumented Democrats." Speaking in Las Vegas on Thursday, the Texas senator and GOP presidential candidate portrayed the idea of a path to citizenship as a ploy to beef up Democratic voter rolls.

In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting — the deadliest in recent U.S. history, with 49 victims — calls for gun control have once again grown louder. In fact, they were shouted on the House floor on Monday. After Speaker Paul Ryan led a moment of silence, Democrats yelled, "Where's the bill?" at him, asking for new gun control measures.

TV ads are unavoidable during a presidential election campaign — just ask the Iowans and New Hampshirites being bombarded with advertisements right now. So why aren't those TV spots seeming to do much good for some Republican candidates?

Tuesday night's Republican debate focused on economic issues. NPR reporters look at candidate claims about business creation, the minimum wage, trade and the length of the tax code.

NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley on the health of the economy:

Republican candidates painted a fairly bleak picture of the U.S. economy during the debate, offering a litany of discouraged workers, sluggish economic growth and children living on food stamps.

If you've paid attention to Donald Trump's speeches, you probably don't have to read his new book.

That's because Crippled America doesn't exactly break new ground. It reads like one of his teleprompter-free campaign speeches: loose, casual, disjointed and full of grandiose adjectives. You can almost hear him dictating it as you read his greatest-hits lines about "real Americans" and the economic threats that China poses to the U.S., mishmashed with a rundown of his policy ideas.

Right now, Americans have a front-row seat to one of the highest-profile job negotiations they will ever see.

Paul Ryan's list of demands before becoming speaker of the House includes a couple of things that few job applicants ever have to think about: party unity and a congressional rule change. But he has one demand that many workers can sympathize with: He wants time to see his kids.

This post was updated at 12:28 p.m. ET.

If Vice President Biden had announced his presidential candidacy today, he would have entered the race with 384 days until Election Day. But he said it was too late for him to be competitive.

Here's the thing: 384 days is an absurdly long time.

At least, it is when you compare American campaigns to those in other countries. The U.S. doesn't have an official campaign season, but the first candidate to jump into the presidential race, Ted Cruz, announced his candidacy on March 23 — 596 days before Election Day.

Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail call for an Obamacare repeal all the time. Plans to replace it are rarer, though. Obamacare is a fantastically complicated policy, and overhauling the health care system would likewise be a complicated business, affecting not only government spending and the economy, but people's very lives on an intensely personal level.

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

No one knows who will lead House Republicans next, but for now, chaos reigns among the House GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy shocked Washington on Thursday when he dropped out of the race for speaker of the House.

If you aren't watching Capitol Hill closely, you might not know what the big deal is, or why the GOP is having such a hard time picking a speaker. Here's a quick rundown of what's going on.

Amazing, simple, easy, fair.

Those are just four of the words Donald Trump used on Monday to describe his new tax plan. It sounds like a standard GOP tax plan, with cuts and limits on deductions. But when you look closer, it takes those ideas much further than his GOP rivals do — to the extent that it could cost the federal government trillions of dollars.

So what is he proposing? Here's what you need to know about it:

What does it do?

Carly Fiorina will make it into CNN's main debate next week, thanks to poll numbers that improved after her strong performance in Fox News' Aug. 6 "happy hour" debate.

Of course, in a field of 17, improving in the polls means moving from 1 or 2 percent to the 5 percent neighborhood.

This story was updated on Wednesday, September 9, at 5:30 PM with an estimate of the plan's revenue effects and a table of its tax brackets.

Jeb Bush's tax plan tries to do a lot. The plan aims to lower the highest tax rate, offer some relief to low earners, reform corporate taxes, stick it to hedge-fund managers and also, by the way, "unleash 4 percent growth" in the economy, as the former Florida governor puts it.

This is going to be an unthinkably expensive election. Case in point: estimates of spending on the presidential race stretch as high as $10 billion.

You can't say we didn't try.

Joke "candidate" Deez Nuts has captivated Washington's attention this week, and we wanted to make sure we had some hot content on the freshest face in the 2016 field. But thoughtful takes don't write themselves. For what it's worth, here's a complete listing of our attempts:

1. Welcome to silly season

Everyone knows student debt is growing. College costs are growing. Student debt delinquencies are rising. And now Hillary Clinton has her own plan for how to stem that tide of financial problems for college graduates.

On Monday, Clinton released a package of ideas aimed at helping Americans handle their college debt, which currently totals around $1.2 trillion. The package's splashiest proposal promises future students a debt-free four-year degree from a public school.

Jeb Bush is again in damage-control mode, this time over an offhand remark he made about Planned Parenthood. He said at an event hosted by the Southern Baptist Convention that Planned Parenthood should be defunded, and he highlighted that he did so as governor of Florida.

He then added as an aside, "I'm not sure we need half-a-billion dollars for women's health issues" — a statement Hillary Clinton and other Democrats pounced on, portraying it as a gaffe that reveals that Bush doesn't care about women's health. He has since said he "misspoke."

"Well, if I ever ran for office, I'd do better as a Democrat than as a Republican," Donald Trump told Playboy in 1990. "And that's not because I'd be more liberal, because I'm conservative. But the working guy would elect me. He likes me."

In a Monday speech, Hillary Clinton focused on a trend that millions of Americans know all too intimately: declining incomes.

The Clinton campaign is calling the phenomenon of stagnant wages "the defining economic challenge of our time," and as debates and primaries draw ever closer, it's becoming clear that jump-starting Americans' wages is going to be the defining challenge of the election. Candidates are furiously trying to differentiate themselves on how to deal with unstoppable phenomena.

A Recent, Scary Problem

States may continue using a popular but controversial drug in lethal injection executions, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 5-4 decision.

The Supreme Court has decided that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

In a set of cases grouped under Obergefell v. Hodges, the high court ruled, 5-4, that states have to license same-sex marriages, as well as recognize same-sex marriages from other states. All four dissenting justices wrote dissents.

The Obama administration finds itself in the rare position of fighting alongside House Republicans this week as it tries to overcome Friday's stinging defeat to its massive trade package, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Imagine publishing a list of all of your recent sexual partners in the local paper. That was what one 2001 Florida law, enacted under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, required of some women in the state.

Huffington Post reporter Laura Bassett brought the so-called Scarlet Letter law to national attention in a Tuesday piece. Here's a rundown of what exactly that law did, and why it was passed in the first place.

What did the law do?

President Obama is once again poised to go it alone on labor policy, this time on overtime. The Labor Department is expected in the coming weeks to release a rule making millions more Americans eligible for overtime work — currently, all workers earning below $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, are guaranteed time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours a week. The law may raise that as high as $52,000, Politico reports.

Three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act expired Sunday night, ending — among other things — the government's ability to collect bulk metadata on Americans' phone calls and emails.

The fight pits Sen. Rand Paul and other legislators fighting for greater privacy against fellow Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and others who are in favor of extending the legislation as is. But if the lawmakers are looking to their constituents for direction, they might not get much help.

The Nebraska state Legislature voted Wednesday to repeal the death penalty in the state. The 30-19 vote overrides Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of a law the Legislature passed last week getting rid of the policy.

Nebraska's Legislature voted Wednesday to abolish the death penalty, overturning Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto. The state's unicameral legislature overwhelmingly approved the measure in a series of three previous votes.

The repeal comes as other states have experienced complications with new lethal-injection cocktails. But Americans overall still support the practice.

Support for the death penalty has slowly fallen over the past couple of decades, from a high of 80 percent in favor in the mid-1990s to just over 60 percent currently, according to Gallup.

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