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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7:41pm

Tue November 6, 2012
Election 2012

Voter Turnout Appears To Be High In Ohio

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 8:08 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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.

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5:51pm

Fri November 2, 2012
It's All Politics

No, Romney's Son Is Not Gunning To Steal Ohio Vote By Rigging Voting Machines

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 6:34 pm

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.

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6:42pm

Thu November 1, 2012
It's All Politics

In Key Senate Races, Outside Groups Outpace Candidates' Ad Spending

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 7:52 pm

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (right), D-Ohio, debates his Republican challenger, Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, at the City Club in Cleveland on Oct. 15.
Tony Dejak AP

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.

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4:20pm

Fri October 26, 2012
It's All Politics

Economists: Romney's 12 Million Jobs Target Realistic, Even If He Loses

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 5:57 pm

Alan Shull attends a job fair in Portland, Ore., on April 24.
Rick Bowmer AP

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.

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4:47am

Wed October 17, 2012
Politics

How Will Sequestration Effect The Federal Budget

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 1:41 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And now let's go to our latest installment in the series Fiscal Cliff Notes.

(SOUNDBITES OF ARCHIVED AUDIO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: On January 1st, 2013 there's going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...painful cuts to the Defense Department, food safety, education...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: ...the Bush tax cuts, the payroll tax cuts...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Taxmageddon.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: It's a cliff.

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3:24am

Thu October 11, 2012
Fiscal Cliff Notes

Fiscal Cliff Could Hit Civilian Pentagon Workers First

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 2:23 pm

A Marine Corp F-35B Joint Strike Fighter lands at Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland in 2011. Analysts say that if mandatory Pentagon budget cuts are imposed next year, fewer new planes could ultimately be ordered.
Cliff Owen AP

Unless Congress acts, the Defense Department faces some $55 billion in cuts after the first of the year. The cuts are part of what's known as sequestration — automatic across the board spending cuts to both defense and nondefense government spending set in motion by last year's debt-ceiling fight.

Salaries for uniformed personnel are the one major thing that's protected. Otherwise, it's about a 10 percent cut to everything from Pentagon civilian staff to the acquisition of multimillion-dollar aircraft, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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3:31am

Mon October 1, 2012
Fiscal Cliff Notes

For High Earners, Expiring Tax Cuts Would Hit Hard

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 5:22 pm

This story is part of our occasional series Fiscal Cliff Notes.

If the Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire, the majority of Americans will see their taxes rise. Those who will see the largest increase are the wealthy.

Dr. Hamilton Lempert, an emergency room doctor in Cincinnati, works almost exclusively on overnight shifts.

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2:47am

Wed September 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Payroll Tax Holiday May Not Survive Year's End

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 4:46 am

The Social Security tax rate is scheduled to revert to 6.2 percent next year, up from the temporary reduction — to 4.2 percent on an employee's first $110,000 in wages — which has been in effect since January 2011.
iStockphoto.com

An occasional series, Fiscal Cliff Notes breaks down the looming "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and deep automatic spending cuts set to hit around the first of year.

If you work, you've probably been getting this tax break: Since January 2011, the government has knocked 2 percentage points off the payroll tax.

For someone making $50,000 a year, the payroll tax holiday works out to about $20 a week.

"We definitely notice it," says Steve Warner of Winter Haven, Fla., while on vacation with his family recently in the nation's capital.

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12:24pm

Fri August 17, 2012
It's All Politics

Twitter And The New Mom: Keeping Up With Politics, 140 Characters At A Time

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 12:46 pm

Twitter.com

Note: We've asked NPR journalists to share their top five (or so) political Twitter accounts, and we're featuring the series on #FollowFriday. Here are recommendations from Tamara Keith (@tamarakeithNPR), an NPR congressional reporter.

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1:13am

Fri July 27, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Would Pay More — Romney, A Lot More — If Bush-Era Tax Cuts End

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 3:42 pm

President George W. Bush signs tax cut legislation on June 7, 2001. The cuts from this and a subsequent bill are set to expire at the end of 2012.
Stephen Jaffe AFP/Getty Images

An occasional series, Fiscal Cliff Notes breaks down the looming "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and deep automatic spending cuts set to hit around the first of year.


About 80 percent of Americans would see their taxes go up if all the tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush were to expire as scheduled at the end of this year. And nearly 100 percent of the highest income earners would have to pay more — including both the Obamas and the Romneys.

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5:54pm

Fri July 20, 2012
It's All Politics

New Questions About Timing Of Romney's Bain Departure

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 10:37 am

Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign stop in Roxbury, Mass., on Thursday.
Evan Vucci AP

The Boston Globe reported new details Friday about Mitt Romney's lingering ties to his private equity firm, Bain Capital, after he left Boston to run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The Globe says Romney was "not merely an absentee owner" between 1999 and 2002, despite financial disclosure forms that say he "has not been involved in the operations" of Bain Capital "in any way," for more than a dozen years.

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3:57am

Tue July 10, 2012
Election 2012

Bush Tax Cuts: The New Middle-Class Norm

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 2:42 pm

Josh Walling and Randi Cartmill with their children, Jacqueline, Josh and Ryan. Josh Walling says his family, whose household income is below the national median, would lose a substantial amount of money if the Bush tax cuts expired.
Courtesy of Randi Cartmill

The first in an occasional series, Fiscal Cliff Notes, which breaks down the looming "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and deep automatic spending cuts set to hit around the first of year.

Much of the political focus when discussing the Bush-era tax cuts is on the wealthy, but they're not the only ones who would be affected if the tax cuts are allowed to expire at the end of this year.

The vast majority of American taxpayers would take a hit, including Randi Cartmill and Josh Walling, who live in Madison, Wis., with their three children.

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4:09am

Mon July 9, 2012
Politics

GOP To Make 31st Attempt To Repeal Obamacare Act

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 1:00 pm

The House Rules Committee takes up a bill Monday called the "Repeal of Obamacare Act." And just like it says, the bill would wipe away the president's Affordable Care Act. A vote of the full House is planned for Wednesday.

It's the first legislative response from House Republicans after the Supreme Court upheld the law. But it is far from the first time the GOP has voted for repeal.

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5:45am

Thu June 28, 2012
Politics

Tentative Deal On Transportation Reached

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 12:34 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

In Washington, House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal to fund highway and transportation projects for the next two years. This averts what could have been a dramatic shutdown after years of temporary extensions. The Senate could vote as soon as today, with the House likely to vote Friday.

NPR's Tamara Keith has details.

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6:23pm

Wed June 20, 2012
Energy

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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3:51pm

Mon June 4, 2012
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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5:49am

Mon May 28, 2012
Politics

Obama Fires Back On Spending Accusations

President Obama has started hitting back at Republicans who accuse him of being the biggest-spending president in history, arguing that the increases in his budgets are the smallest in decades.

5:02pm

Wed May 23, 2012
Law

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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4:02am

Mon May 21, 2012
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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5:33pm

Wed May 16, 2012
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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4:09am

Tue May 15, 2012
Election 2012

JPMorgan's Loss A Gain For Campaign Positioning

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

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

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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6:16pm

Fri May 11, 2012
Mitt Romney

Romney Shifts Gears On Auto Industry Bailout

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

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

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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5:14am

Fri May 11, 2012
Politics

Candidates Forced To Juggle Inconsistent Economic Data

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, the presidential election is expected to turn on the economy, which means that every bit of economic news takes on political significance. Trouble is, we don't always know what to make of it when we hear that unemployment claims fell again. Sounds good. Or that the trade deficit jumped. Not so good. NPR's Tamara Keith and Scott Horsley will now help us sort that out.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Whatever story you want to tell about the U.S. economy, you can find some data points to make your case.

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5:26pm

Mon May 7, 2012
Election 2012

Uphill Climb For Veteran Lugar In Tuesday Primary

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

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

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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6:37am

Sat May 5, 2012
House & Senate Races

Lugar Struggles In Race Flooded By Outside Spending

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

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

4:41pm

Mon April 23, 2012
NPR Story

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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5:54pm

Wed April 18, 2012
It's All Politics

Most Small Businesses Don't Quite Fit The Political Picture

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 6:28 pm

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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2:57am

Wed April 18, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 8:46 am

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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5:22pm

Tue April 17, 2012
Million-Dollar Donors

SuperDonor Backs Romney — And Gay Marriage

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 6:15 pm

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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3:32am

Thu April 5, 2012
Election 2012

Longtime GOP Sen. Lugar Faces Stiff Tea Party Fight

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

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

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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