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.

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

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The new Congressional Budget Office report gives ammunition to Republicans and puts Democrats on the defensive. It said the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of full-time workers by more than 2 million by the year 2024. But as usual, the truth is more complicated than the headlines and press releases suggest.

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President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech with enthusiasm last night. Facing a Congress that has often frustrated him, as well as sagging poll numbers, the president offered a list of proposals Congress could pass, and a series of plans he could enact alone if they don't.

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.

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And even before Edward Snowden and his leaks made NSA surveillance the subject of dinner table conversations all over American, President Obama said he wanted a debate about the right balance between security and civil liberties. The Snowden revelations made sure that Mr. Obama got one. NPR's Mara Liasson reports on how the political calculus is working at the White House.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: The president's new senior advisor, John Podesta, describes what Mr. Obama wants Americans to understand.

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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 been a long year since Republicans vowed to rebrand their party as friendlier to women, minorities and younger voters. Even if its longer term problems remain, the party finds itself in surprisingly good shape going into the 2014 midterms.

With HealthCare.gov able to handle an increasing number of users, the Obama administration finally went on the offensive to urge Americans to sign up for new health insurance. The administration had planned a massive advertising and social media campaign to support the Affordable Care Act back in October, but the push was delayed for two months after the health insurance exchange website failed in its debut. The effort comes as the deadline for people to sign up for coverage starting next year looms.

After years of wide spread fretting about the size of the federal debt and angst about new federal regulations for health care, one federal program is enjoying widespread popularity: Medicaid. Morning Edition examines this political paradox.

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.

The administration is expected to report on the number of Americans who have signed up for health insurance on the federal exchange this week.

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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 care.gov 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.

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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.

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This morning, we're looking at how Members of Congress are responding to President Obama's call for military action in Syria.

INSKEEP: In fact, we can expect to hear many voices in that debate in the coming days on MORNING EDITION.

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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?

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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."

A few months ago, the Republican National Committee released several recommendations for broadening the party's voter appeal. The report told the GOP to reach out to women, younger voters and Hispanics. But so far, that has not been the direction party leaders have taken in Congress or in the media.

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.

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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.

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Today, President Obama toured the Jersey shore, surveying the recovery work that's been done since Superstorm Sandy devastated the area seven months ago. The visit was also a reunion for the president and an unlikely political ally, the Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. NPR's Mara Liasson reports on their bipartisan relationship and the political benefits for both men.

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It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Renee's in Afghanistan. I'm Steve Inskeep. President Obama's administration has gone through entire seasons when it seemed the bottom was falling out. The administration's outward approach at times like this has been to seem unflappable and move on.

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.

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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.

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