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.

Senate Democrats offered an alternative Thursday to the sequester, the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to hit March 1.

Despite dire warnings in congressional hearings this week, many on Capitol Hill seem resigned to the sequester.



And also watching the president's address last night was NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith. She was in the chamber and spoke to members of Congress afterwards.



Now to politics in the U.S. and one of those ethical storms that can blow over in a few weeks or end a career. This time, the storm clouds are hovering over Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Tomorrow, he'll officially take on a prominent chairmanship in the Senate. So what's all the ethical fuss about?

NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith explains.



This week, the Senate is expected to delay a political fight over the debt limit, the kind of brawl that could hurt the slowing economy. But they're really just putting off one fight for another, a debate over whether to overt the upcoming sequester. That's the only in Washington term for across-the-board spending cuts set to hit March 1st. The cuts would be severe and have few supporters.

But as NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith reports, lawmakers still can't seem to find a way around them.

The Obama administration is taking its push for gun legislation outside of the Beltway — possibly in a nod to the obstacles any gun control bills will face in Washington.

On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden held a round-table discussion in Richmond, Va., speaking with people who worked on gun safety after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a Republican leadership plan to put off the debt ceiling fight for three months. This marks a new strategy for House Republicans who until recently had pledged not to raise the debt ceiling unless it was matched with an equal amount of spending cuts.

President Obama dined with lawmakers at the Capitol in the traditional inaugural luncheon on Monday. Within hours, Obama and congressional Republicans will be back at it over the debt ceiling, spending cuts and a possible government shutdown.

The federal government hit its debt limit at the end of last year. Since then, the Treasury Department has been taking what it calls "extraordinary measures" to keep the government funded and avoid defaulting on U.S. obligations.

But those measures will run out sometime between the middle of February and early March. Then it's up to Congress to raise the debt limit.

House Republicans are wrestling with the best strategy at a retreat Thursday and Friday in Virginia. And some have been denying that there is a risk of default if the debt ceiling isn't raised.



Yeah, it's Wednesday. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Victims of Hurricane Sandy are one step closer to getting a major infusion of federal disaster aid after a long delay. Last night, the House approved a $50 billion assistance package.

NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith reports.



It's Friday and it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

As if the looming battles over the budget and debt ceiling are not enough, President Obama faces another delicate act with Congress.

INSKEEP: This one too grows out of the Constitution's separation of powers. The president gets to name his cabinet choices - as he's been doing. The Senate gets to confirm or reject them.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish. New York and New Jersey and getting some much needed federal disaster relief, but at least for now, it's far less than the state's leaders have requested. Today, Congress approved nearly $10 billion to replenish the National Flood Insurance program. The move comes after a major blowup earlier this week when House leaders failed to act on a larger aid package. NPR's Tamara Keith has our story.

President Obama has officially won the election, with 332 electoral votes tallied in his column.

Of course this is old news. But the formal count mandated by the Constitution took place Friday in a joint session of Congress, heavy on ceremony and light on attendance.

In 10 days, virtually all Americans will be hit with a tax increase and deep government spending cuts will follow shortly behind. That is, unless Congress and President Obama can find a way to avert the "fiscal cliff."

It's not looking very promising at the moment. On Thursday night, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled the plug on a measure he was calling his "Plan B" and sent his members home for Christmas.

House Speaker John Boehner was dealt a major defeat Thursday night. After spending most of the week trying to round up votes for his "Plan B" to extend tax cuts for virtually everyone, he pulled the measure without a vote and sent the House home for Christmas. The clock keeps ticking toward the end of the year, when automatic tax increases and spending cuts are set to hit.

Early Thursday, Boehner expressed confidence not only that his bill would pass but that the Democratic-controlled Senate would feel so much pressure, it would be forced to consider it, too.

House Republicans are under a lot of pressure.

House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team are urging them to support his "Plan B" to avoid the automatic tax hikes of the "fiscal cliff." But they're also facing pressure from outside groups that could mount primary challenges against them if they do.

Boehner argues his plan — which would allow the Bush-era tax cuts to stay in place for income under $1 million a year — isn't a tax increase. But a number of conservative groups have come to a very different conclusion.



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


And I'm David Greene.

Politicians, they love to stay on message, don't they? Even when there's not much to spin, they'll spin.

MONTAGNE: Take last night. President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner. Both sides said the exchange was frank. Lines of communication remain open.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

Speaker of the House John Boehner took to his chamber's floor today with an update on negotiations over the federal budget. As the clock ticks toward automatic spending cuts and tax hikes, Boehner gave the impression that little has changed.

Lines of communication remain open in an effort to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff," according to the White House and House Speaker John Boehner.

If no deal is reached between now and the end of the year, would the consequences be that drastic?

To answer that question, let's imagine it's January and the nation has gone off the "fiscal cliff." You don't really feel any different and things don't look different, either. That's because, according to former congressional budget staffer Stan Collender, the cliff isn't really a cliff.

The Internet has not been kind to House Speaker John Boehner in recent days. On Twitter, there are some new, not-so-subtle hashtags going around: #boehnermustgo, #fireboehner and #purgeboehner.

A grand bargain, a compromise to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, could all come down to one word: revenue. It's now widely agreed that steering away from the cliff — the combination of spending cuts and tax increases set to hit at the start of the year — will require some combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. The central sticking point could well be whether President Obama and Congress can agree on the definition of revenue.

At the moment, the casual observer could easily get the sense that the president and Republicans in Congress are talking past each other.

Virtually everyone agrees that allowing the nation to fall off the fiscal cliff would be a bad thing.

Government programs would be cut, taxes would rise significantly on a majority of Americans, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, the economy would fall back into recession.

But get this: Even if all of those things happen, there would still be a budget deficit.



For weeks, months - make that years - the conventional wisdom has been that the presidential election would all come down to Ohio, and Ohio would be very close. Well, that was partially right. Ohio was very close, but as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, not as pivotal as predicted.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Jack Shumate(ph) flew into Ohio last Thursday from Dallas, Texas. He came here because this was the place where he felt he could really make a difference for his candidate, Mitt Romney.



And we're going to move on now to Ohio. Polls don't close there until 7:30, about 20 minutes from now. That's where we find NPR's Tamara Keith, who's at a polling place on the campus of the Ohio State University in Columbus. And Tamara, what can you tell us about the voting issues in Ohio. It's a closely contested state, of course, and a real electoral prize, 18 votes, 18 electoral votes.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Lynn Neary, filling in for our regular hosts who are preparing for a long night of election coverage.

At this hour, voting continues in every state, and we're going to hear how things are going in a few of the places that could decide the election. One of them is Ohio, worth 18 electoral votes. Residents there have been inundated with ads and visits from the candidates. Now the voters get their say.

We begin with NPR's Tamara Keith, who is in Columbus. Hi, Tamara.

Have you heard the story that's swept the liberal blogosphere in recent days about how Mitt Romney's son Tagg is going to steal the election for his dad?

It's not true, but like all good conspiracy theories, it is based on kernels of truth.

This conspiracy centers on voting machines in Ohio, a key battleground in this election. A couple of Ohio counties use voting machines made by a company called Hart InterCivic. According to the rumor, Tagg Romney owns part of Hart. So, goes the story, Tagg Romney could fix the election.

Social media and the liberal blogosphere have raised questions about a Texas-based voting system company's connections to several fundraisers for Mitt Romney and Romney's son Tagg. Further stirring concern, the voting systems are used in two counties in Ohio. We look at the issue in the latest installment of our series In Context. Tamara Keith talks to Audie Cornish.

Most of the attention heading into Election Day may be on the presidential race, but the stakes are also high in the battle for the U.S. Senate, where there are close contests in about a dozen states.

According to an NPR analysis of Kantar Media CMAG data, outside groups are spending more than $100 million blanketing the airwaves. This won't come as a surprise if you live in a state with a competitive Senate race.



As part of our ongoing elections coverage, we're talking stump speeches. Today on MORNING EDITION, we had a Republican political consultant listen to President Obama's remarks with a critical ear. Now, it's Mitt Romney's turn. Here's NPR's Tamara Keith with help from a Democratic operative.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Tad Devine is ready. He has a yellow legal pad next to his laptop as he watches Governor Romney's speech in Henderson, Nevada.

TAD DEVINE: OK. Here we go.



During this disaster, President Obama and Governor Romney paused their campaigns, but there's still plenty of time before Election Day for another round of stump speeches - those partisan speeches for partisan crowds who don't give them a lot of scrutiny. So we decided to show the speeches to people who would be more critical - political operatives from the opposite party.

In this first of two parts, NPR's Tamara Keith brings us a look at a recent stump speech from President Obama.

As the election draws closer, the economy and jobs remain top issues in the presidential race.

President Obama points to the improvement in the labor market since he took office in the midst of a downward spiral.

Both he and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have five-point plans for improving the economy, although their strategies differ.