Scott Horsley

Scott Horsley is a White House correspondent for NPR News. He reports on the policy and politics of the Obama Administration, with a special emphasis on economic issues.

The 2012 campaign is the third presidential contest Horsley has covered for NPR. He previously reported on Senator John McCain's White House bid in 2008 and Senator John Kerry's campaign in 2004. Thanks to this experience, Horsley has become an expert in the motel shampoo offerings of various battleground states.

Horsley took up the White House beat after serving as a San Diego-based business correspondent for NPR where he covered fast food, gasoline prices, and the California electricity crunch of 2000. He reported from the Pentagon during the early phases of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before joining NPR in 2001, Horsley was a reporter for member station KPBS-FM, where he received numerous honors, including a Public Radio News Directors' award for coverage of the California energy crisis.

Earlier in his career, Horsley worked as a reporter for WUSF-FM in Tampa, Florida, and as a news writer and reporter for commercial radio stations in Boston and Concord, New Hampshire. Horsley began his professional career as a production assistant for NPR's Morning Edition.

Horsley earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and an MBA from San Diego State University.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We have more details now on just who is signing up for insurance through the government's new healthcare marketplace. About a quarter of the people signing up are under the age of 35. As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, the Obama administration released its first demographic breakdown of the insurance customers today.

This week, we've been looking back at the legacy of the "War on Poverty," launched by Lyndon Johnson 50 years ago. The arsenal included government programs such as Head Start, food stamps and a push to increase the nation's minimum wage.

"We must extend the coverage of our minimum wage laws to more than 2 million workers now lacking this basic protection of purchasing power," Johnson said.

Low-wage workers actually saw their purchasing power peak while Johnson was in office. Adjusting for inflation, minimum wage workers earn less today than they did in the late 1960s.

The Justice Department will answer a challenge Friday morning to a controversial provision in the new health care law. It requires most employers that offer health insurance to include birth control at no cost.

A group of Catholic nuns has objected to that, and this week they won a temporary reprieve from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It's an unusual test case, but it won't be the last one.

Two decades after NAFTA created a giant North American free trade zone, the U.S. is negotiating more big trade deals that would span the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. President Obama has embraced the potential agreements as a way to improve the U.S. economy.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Here's a number for you: 725. That's the minimum hourly wage in the United States, as set by the federal government. It hasn't budged in four-and-a-half years. President Obama is pushing to increase it. Some state and local governments are doing that on their own. As 2013 draws to a close, we're hearing about the year in numbers

Today, NPR's Scott Horsley on 725.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: 725 is a number that Mary Coleman knows all too well.

MARY COLEMAN: I work at Popeye's here in Milwaukee. I make $7.25 an hour.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. The government's health insurance website has a new Mr. Fixit. The Obama administration has hired a former Microsoft executive to oversee improvements. Kurt DelBene will take over for Jeff Zients, the former management consultant and White House staffer who was brought in in late October to help turn the troubled website around.

News of DelBene's appointment comes as President Obama met today with a group of high tech CEOs. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

The Obama administration just released the latest sign-up numbers for its troubled health insurance exchange website. Enrollment picked up last month, after a disastrous start in October. Still, the number of people signing up for coverage is below the administration's original forecasts.

Enrollment in the federal government's new health insurance exchange picked up sharply in November, but the number of people signing up for coverage still trails original forecasts. Officials from the Obama administration say they expect the pace of enrollments will continue to increase now that the insurance website is working more smoothly.

Users have until Dec. 23 to sign up for coverage that begins in January.

An increasing number of people are signing up for health insurance through the government's new exchange, suggesting the Obama administration has made progress in fixing its broken website. But the exchange is just one part of the health care law, which remains politically divisive almost four years after its passage.

The Obama administration says it has patched hundreds of software bugs infecting the government's health insurance website. That includes the notorious "prison glitch."

Martha Freeman of Pennsylvania encountered the bug when she tried to sign up for coverage for herself and her adult children. The website wanted documentation of the children's incarceration status.

Never mind they'd never been in prison. The website was soon locked up.

Freeman figured she was stuck in solitary, until she called the toll-free help line and discovered she wasn't alone.

The Obama administration is renewing its sales push for the president's signature health care law. On Wednesday, officials host a "youth summit" at the White House, where young people will be encouraged to sign up for insurance coverage. Their participation is crucial to help balance out the cost of insuring older, sicker people.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

As with other e-commerce sites, Cyber Monday was a busy one for the HealthCare.gov. It brought a surge in traffic to the government's beleaguered health insurance website.

Later today, President Obama will give a speech detailing the work of the technical teams who have been patching bugs and expanding capacity.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

The end of Thanksgiving weekend brings us closer to another deadline. The budget chairs of the Senate and the House, here in Washington, are continuing talks to set spending levels for the coming year and maybe beyond. They're leading a conference committee setup as part of the deal to end the partial government shutdown this past fall.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

President Obama pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey today. Now the question is whether the government's new health insurance website will also get a reprieve. After a disastrous rollout eight weeks ago, the White House says it's on track to have the site working smoothly for most users by this weekend. Many consumers say they have seen improvements to the site. But others are still hitting roadblocks.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There has been a surge in the number of people signing up for health insurance on the California exchange. By mid-November, nearly four times as many people were signing up each day than when the exchange was opened. That's better, though the numbers are still shy of what the Obama administration had originally hoped for.

The Obama administration is asking for people who've been turned off by the government's problem-plagued insurance website to come back. Officials say the website is working better now, though it's still far from fixed.

President Obama has acknowledged the fumbled rollout of his signature health care law has hurt his credibility and that of fellow Democrats. He offered a minor change to the law in hopes of calming Democratic nerves, and beating back bigger changes proposed by House Republicans.

As technical problems with the government's new health insurance marketplace slow the pace of sign-up, a variety of "fixes" have been proposed. But some of these would create their own challenges. In rough order from least to most disruptive, here are some of the ideas:

1) Fix the website on schedule
This is everyone's favorite idea. The Obama administration says it hopes to have HealthCare.gov working smoothly for most users by the end of November, though it's not clear that target will be met.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Its MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. We'll get a look this week at how many people have signed up for health insurance on the new government exchanges. According to the Wall Street Journal, fewer than 50,000 people have obtained coverage so far through the federal website. That's well below the government's original forecasts.

President Obama's reached out to veterans Monday in a number of ways to mark the Veteran's Day holiday.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Today, President Obama meets some of the volunteers trying to sign up Americans for health insurance. The volunteers work in Texas, where the president is traveling.

MONTAGNE: The trip to Dallas is partly to raise money for Democratic Senate candidates, and partly the promote the new health care law. But in Dallas, it's hard to miss the current gap between that law's ambition and its current execution.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

Last month's government shutdown could deliver its first political victim tomorrow. Republican Ken Cuccinelli is trailing in the Virginia Governor's race. During a campaign appearance this weekend, President Obama tried to tie Cuccinelli to the shutdown, and also to the Tea Party. Cuccinelli, in turn, tried to link his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, to the troubled rollout of Obamacare.

Food stamp recipients will see a cut in their benefits starting Friday. For the hungry and unemployed, more cuts may be coming. That's a challenge for the affected families, but it could also be a drain on the broader economy.

This week, Congress dedicates a new bust of Winston Churchill in the Capitol's Statuary Hall. The sculpture is meant to honor the British statesman's legacy of determination and resolve.

It's also a salute to Churchill's friendship with the United States — summed up in an oft-quoted line that Maine Sen. Angus King used during the recent congressional debt-ceiling debate.

As King put it: "Winston Churchill once famously observed that Americans will always do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else."

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with an acknowledgement of trouble by President Obama.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: OK, the president is speaking right now to reporters and others in the White House Rose Garden. Our White House correspondent Scott Horsley has been listening in. He's in our studios. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, the president's talking about Obamacare. What's he saying?

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Throughout the battle over the government shutdown and debt limit, President Obama repeated his view many times: So long as Republicans were threatening default, he would not negotiate.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You don't negotiate by putting a gun to the other person's head.

INSKEEP: That strategy paid off for the Whitehouse, but it's not a strategy the president comes by naturally - as NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

The White House announced Tuesday that President Obama will nominate Federal Reserve Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve Wednesday. She would replace Ben Bernanke, who's stepping down from the post. Yellen has been the presumptive nominee for weeks, after Lawrence Summers announced his intention to remove himself from the running in September. She'd be the first woman to head the Fed.

The government shutdown grinds on with no immediate relief in sight.

President Obama says he's willing to talk with Republican lawmakers about adjustments to the health care law and other issues, but only after they re-open the government and lift the threat of a federal default.

"I'm happy to negotiate with you on anything. I don't think any one party has a monopoly on wisdom. But you don't negotiate by putting a gun to the other person's head," Obama says.

Experts in negotiation say the president's stance may be justified, but it's also risky.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Obama's health care law has so far survived challenges in Congress and the courts. But its biggest test could begin next week. That's when the online marketplaces offering health care coverage to the uninsured are set to start signing people up. The question is, will they come?

Pages