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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Economy
6:00 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Defense Giant Says Budget Cuts Could Mean Pink Slips

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin says it will be forced to send notices of possible layoffs to its entire workforce if proposed federal budget cuts go into effect.
Tom Pennington AP

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 8:58 am

Just imagine the political fallout: Nov. 2, only days before the election, tens of thousands — maybe hundreds of thousands — of workers receive letters warning that they could be out of a job.

That's exactly what some in the defense industry say will happen if Congress doesn't act soon to reverse sequestration — the across-the-board spending cuts that take effect in January if Congress doesn't agree on a plan to cut the deficit.

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Energy
6:23 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Senate Votes To Keep Mercury Limits On Power Plants

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The Senate has narrowly rejected an effort to scrap tough limits on mercury emitted from power plants. The Obama administration has trumpeted the rules affecting coal-burning power plants as an environmental triumph. But to industry groups, and many Republicans, these rules are the latest salvo in a war against coal. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

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Politics
5:36 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

New Farm Bill Focuses On Reaping, Not Sowing

Originally published on Thu June 7, 2012 5:54 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A $970 billion bill, covering everything from food stamps to crop insurance, passed a key procedural hurdle in the Senate today, and it did so with overwhelming bipartisan support. The measure, known as the Farm Bill, comes up for renewal every five years. For lawmakers it's long been a way to bring big money back to their states.

But NPR's Tamara Keith reports that this year's bill comes with an austere spin.

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Politics
4:54 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

New Primary System Shakes Up California Elections

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 7:29 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

California voters also turned out yesterday, and one thing is clear: The state's new open primary system has shaken things up. Under the new system, the top two candidates will move onto the general election, regardless of party. And in quite a few races, this means come November, two candidates of the same party will face off. NPR's Tamara Keith has that story.

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It's All Politics
3:51 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

California's Top-Two Primary System Faces First Statewide Test

Abel Maldonado, a former California state senator and current congressional candidate, pushed for the change to the top-two primary system. He says he thinks the system will lead to "more open-minded and more reasonable" officials.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 4, 2012 5:45 pm

When voters go to the polls in California's primary on Tuesday, instead of only being able to vote for candidates in their own party, they will be able to vote for anyone they please.

Tuesday will be the first statewide test of California's new open primary system, where the top two candidates move on to the general election, regardless of party. Backers hope this system will favor moderates.

In California, there aren't very many purple areas. The state has strongly Democratic regions and strongly Republican regions — and the Democrats dominate.

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Election 2012
5:29 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Fundraising Phenom Attracts Attention In Calif. Race

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 9:04 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In campaigns for congress, the incumbent almost always has the upper hand. But we're about to meet a young Republican in California who's trying to defy that rule. The combination of redistricting and a young challenger with impressive fundraising skills has turned a race that shouldn't be competitive into a toss-up. NPR's Tamara Keith has this story from California's Central Valley.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Meet Ricky Gill.

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Law
5:02 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Ousted Secret Service Agents May Ask For Jobs Back

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 7:22 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The director of the Secret Service assured a Senate committee, today, that a prostitution scandal involving his agents never compromised security. Mark Sullivan also apologized for behavior he said was reckless. It was Sullivan's first public testimony since news broke last month of Secret Service employees picking up prostitutes before a presidential visit to Colombia. He insisted this was an isolated incident.

But NPR's Tamara Keith reports, some on the committee weren't buying it.

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It's All Politics
4:02 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Sophomoric? Members Of Congress Talk Like 10th Graders, Analysis Shows

Congress, shown gathered for President Obama's State of the Union in January, is speaking at about a grade level lower now than in 2005, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 3:30 pm

Members of Congress are often criticized for what they do — or rather, what they don't do.

But what about what they say and, more specifically, how they say it? It turns out that the sophistication of congressional speech-making is on the decline, according to the open government group the Sunlight Foundation. Since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade.

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It's All Politics
5:33 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Lugar's Last Race: Indiana Senator Doesn't Take Defeat Sitting Down

Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., crosses the finish line of the 3-mile Capital Challenge charity race with Olympic marathoner Meb Keflezighi. It was Lugar's 31st race, and his last as a senator after he lost a primary challenge this month.
Javaun Moradi NPR

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 7:34 pm

The partisan divisions on Capitol Hill are numerous — but Wednesday morning, about two-dozen members of Congress did something entirely nonpartisan. They ran in a 3-mile race for charity, along with their staffs and teams from the executive and judicial branches and the media (including NPR).

The ACLI Capital Challenge is an annual tradition that dates back to 1981, and one senator has run the race every time: Dick Lugar, R-Ind. But Wednesday's race was also his last.

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Election 2012
4:09 am
Tue May 15, 2012

JPMorgan's Loss A Gain For Campaign Positioning

The U.S. and JPMorgan Chase flags wave outside its headquarters in New York on Friday.
Eduardo Munoz Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 9:51 am

The fallout from banking giant JPMorgan Chase's $2 billion — and counting — loss has made its way into the presidential campaign. The president and presumptive GOP challenger Mitt Romney have very different views about the regulation of Wall Street, in particular the Dodd-Frank financial systems overhaul law.

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Mitt Romney
6:16 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Romney Shifts Gears On Auto Industry Bailout

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives for a town hall-style meeting at Stamco Industries, a truck parts supplier, in Euclid, Ohio, on Monday.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 6:52 pm

Mitt Romney is from Michigan, a state he has said he hopes to win in November. But the likely Republican presidential nominee has very publicly opposed the government bailout of the auto industry.

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Politics
5:14 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Candidates Must Juggle Inconsistent Economic Data

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 7:10 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Politics
4:22 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Lugar's 36-Year Senate Career Ends With Primary Loss

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 4:35 am

Republican Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana has lost his bid for re-election. In Tuesday's primary, he was defeated by Tea Party challenger Richard Mourdock.

Election 2012
5:26 pm
Mon May 7, 2012

Uphill Climb For Veteran Lugar In Tuesday Primary

Republican Sen. Richard Lugar (right) and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock participate in an April 11 debate in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings AP

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 8:26 am

In Indiana, Republican primary voters Tuesday will decide whether to give GOP Sen. Richard Lugar the opportunity to seek a seventh term in November's general election. A recent independent poll shows him in trouble in his own party, with his Tea Party-backed opponent, Richard Mourdock, in the lead.

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House & Senate Races
6:37 am
Sat May 5, 2012

Lugar Struggles In Race Flooded By Outside Spending

U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., speaks to reporters on Monday in South Bend, Ind.
James Brosher AP

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 10:26 am

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It's All Politics
6:11 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

GOP 'Young Guns' Group Takes Heat In Indiana Senate Race

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., speaks to reporters Monday in South Bend, Ind. Lugar, a 36-year veteran of the Senate, is engulfed in a primary battle with Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party favorite.
James Brosher AP

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 6:29 pm

Big spending by outside groups isn't just having an impact on presidential politics. Independent expenditures are creating some big waves in congressional races as well. Take the YG Network and the Republican primary in the Indiana Senate race.

YG Network describes itself as supporting center-right policies and the policymakers who fight for that agenda. YG is short for "Young Guns" — a brand created in part by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The YG Network and two similarly named sister organizations were started late last year by former Cantor aides.

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NPR Story
4:41 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Florida Senator Promotes New Dream Act

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 7:39 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Here's one thing Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio did not address at that meeting today. It's an idea Rubio has floated recently: an alternative to the DREAM Act. That's the measure backed by the White House which would create a path to citizenship for young people brought to the country illegally so long as they go to college or serve in the military. The bill never made it out of Congress. NPR's Tamara Keith explains Rubio's version.

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It's All Politics
6:28 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Most Small Businesses Don't Quite Fit The Political Picture

Angela Caragan's A Cupcake Co. offers gourmet cupcakes for special events. Like more than 20 million other small-business owners in the U.S., she has no employees.
Courtesy of Angela Caragan

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on a GOP measure to cut taxes on small businesses.

Now, the mental image most of us have of a small business is probably something like this: a handful of employees, a shop, maybe a restaurant or a little tech firm.

It turns out the reality of the nation's 28 million small businesses is, in many cases, quite different.

House Republicans say their tax cut would help millions of small businesses.

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It's All Politics
8:46 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Small Businesses Get Big Political Hype. What's The Reality?

Tourists walk near shops in the Maine seaside village of Northeast Harbor.
Dina Rudick Boston Globe via Getty Images

The House is scheduled to vote this week on a small-business tax cut bill offered up by Republicans. It's just the latest piece of legislation to focus on small businesses, which are widely praised in the political discourse as engines of job creation. The adoration is nearly universal — and it reflects something beyond economic reality.

"Small businesses create 2 out of every 3 jobs in this economy, so our recovery depends on them," President Obama said in 2012 at a New Jersey sandwich shop where he met with small-business owners.

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Million-Dollar Donors
6:15 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

SuperDonor Backs Romney — And Gay Marriage

Hedge fund manager Paul Singer of Elliott Management has donated $1 million to Mitt Romney's superPAC.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

When it comes to campaign money, there's one industry GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney can count on: finance.

Some of the single largest checks to the pro-Romney superPAC Restore Our Future come from hedge fund managers. People at securities and investment firms have contributed more than $16 million.

Paul Singer, the man behind the hedge fund Elliott Management, has contributed $1 million.

As of Dec. 31, Elliott Management had $19.2 billion in assets, making it one of the nation's largest hedge funds.

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Election 2012
3:32 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Longtime GOP Sen. Lugar Faces Stiff Tea Party Fight

Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (right) speaks with potential voters on March 31 in Evansville, Ind.
Tamara Keith NPR

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 9:03 am

Six-term Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana is facing his first primary challenge since winning the job in the 1970s. The race is attracting big money from outside groups and superPACs, and is seen as a test of the strength of the Tea Party movement versus the power of incumbency.

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Mitt Romney
4:04 am
Mon April 2, 2012

On Energy Policy, Romney's Emphasis Has Shifted

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns in Muskego, Wis., on Saturday.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 11:24 am

The GOP candidates for president have seized on high gas prices as a line of attack against President Obama, largely saying the answer is more domestic oil drilling.

But GOP front-runner Mitt Romney used to have a position seemingly at odds — at least in emphasis — with what he and the other Republicans are now advocating.

As Massachusetts governor, Romney said high gasoline prices "are probably here to stay," and he advocated policies to cut energy demand.

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It's All Politics
3:46 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Romney's Support For Ryan Budget Has Democrats Crying Foul

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks in San Diego on Monday. Democrats have criticized his support for GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan.
Steven Senne AP

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Thursday on what's known as the Ryan budget, the spending plan from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that among other things changes the structure of Medicare and rewrites the tax code. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has endorsed the plan, but some are saying his rhetoric on the campaign trail may not match up with at least one reality of the Ryan budget.

Romney said he supported the Ryan budget the day it was unveiled.

"I applaud it," he said. "It's an excellent piece of work, and very much needed."

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Presidential Race
12:02 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

How A Swing-State Upswing Could Alter The '12 Race

Honda has a huge presence in Ohio, where the company and its suppliers are hiring. Here two advanced continuously variable transmissions undergo leak testing at the new assembly line at the Honda plant in Russells Point, Ohio.
Ron Lietzke AP

First-time claims for unemployment benefits held last week just about where they've been recently — at a four-year low, according a report out Thursday. But in congressional testimony Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed only cautious optimism about the strength of the economy.

The economy has been and is likely to continue to be a major focus of this year's presidential campaign. And in key battleground states like Ohio, the economy appears to be outperforming the nation as a whole.

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It's All Politics
4:38 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Casting Himself As Outsider, Santorum Benefited From D.C. 'Revolving Door'

On the campaign trail, Rick Santorum portrays himself as a Washington outsider. But the former senator has made money from inside-the-Beltway pursuits.
Jeff Kowalsky EPA/Landov

Rick Santorum is trying to shake up the Republican primary by winning the primary Tuesday in Michigan — and many polls show him neck and neck with Mitt Romney. He's a former senator from Pennsylvania best known as a culture warrior. What's less well known is what he did after losing his re-election bid in 2006.

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The Road Back To Work
4:01 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Even When Employed, Health Care A Challenge

Casaundra Bronner, of Hazelwood, Mo., worked in marketing before being laid off in March 2010. She found a job again in March 2011 but is still uninsured and having trouble getting the health care she needs.
Whitney Curtis for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 6:24 pm

Part of an ongoing series

Zumba is a fitness craze; a high-energy dance and exercise program. You can find it in high-end gyms and even the community center in Hazelwood, Mo., where Casaundra Bronner, 40, lives.

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It's All Politics
9:54 am
Wed January 18, 2012

South Carolina: Gingrich's Last Stand?

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich addresses the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday in Columbia, S.C. The state holds its primary on Saturday.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 12:01 am

In South Carolina, the race to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney is hitting a fever pitch. The state is seen by many as the last stop before inevitability in the GOP primary.

In campaign stops Tuesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich laid out what sounded like an ultimatum.

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