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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Presidential Race
8:00 am
Sun January 22, 2012

Gingrich Wins Big In South Carolina

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 9:24 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

The Republican presidential nominating contest is now in full swing - emphasis on swing. Three states have voted, each anointing a different winner. Yesterday, South Carolinians had their say, and they picked Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney was a distant second, with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul third and fourth.

We have reports from all four campaigns, starting with NPR's Tamara Keith at Gingrich headquarters last night.

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Election 2012
3:22 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

For South Carolina Voters, Jobs May Matter Most

Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at Seven Oaks Park this week in Irmol, S.C. Jobs are likely to be an important issue for South Carolina voters in Saturday's primary, with the state's unemployment rate at 9.9 percent.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 7:08 pm

In a presidential election that most expect will be all about the economy, South Carolina is a state where economic issues are front and center. The state's unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, well above the national rate. But even that number is deceptive. There are pockets around the state where the conditions are much more severe. In Lancaster County, for example, the rate is above 12 percent.

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Election 2012
4:00 am
Fri January 20, 2012

ABC Airs Interview With Gingrich's Ex-Wife Marianne

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 7:54 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As Mara just mentioned, the debate last night opened with a question about a claim made by Gingrich's ex-wife. Well, Marianne Gingrich gave her exclusive interview to ABC's "Nightline," putting the candidate's personal life in the spotlight once again. NPR's Tamara Keith has more.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: The interview was incredibly hyped, in part because Marianne Gingrich has been silent so far on her ex-husband's presidential candidacy. This was her first television interview since their 1999 divorce.

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Politics
4:19 am
Thu January 5, 2012

Recess Appointment Puts Obama At Odds With GOP

President Obama used a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Wednesday. Unlike similar appointments, the Senate hadn't technically recessed.

Politics
6:23 am
Sat December 31, 2011

This Year In Congress: Much Drama, Little To Show

House Speaker John Boehner, surrounded by Republican House members, speaks during a news conference in Washington in December. The House initially rejected a plan to extend a tax cut for two months to buy time for talks on a full-year renewal. It later compromised — a rare event in 2011.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 10:05 am

Congress got plenty of attention this year, but it was for all the wrong reasons.

There were at least three countdowns to shutdown, there was the debt-limit fight, plus the will-they-or-won't-they drama earlier in December over the payroll tax holiday. Looking at how few bills were actually signed into law this year, one might conclude this session was mostly sizzle and not much steak.

"I mean, I knew it was going to be bad this year, but I didn't realize like how bad it was," says Tobin Grant, an associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.

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The Road Back To Work
3:26 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

When The Road Back To Work Detours

Randy Howland works in his small office in March, shortly after he began a work-from-home job with a call center earning $10 an hour.
Tamara Keith NPR

Part of an ongoing series

For the long-term unemployed, getting a job isn't always the end of the story.

Randy Howland spent most of this past year working at a $10-an-hour customer service job. He used to make six figures. With this job, he was settling, just so he could have the satisfaction of working. It was essentially a call-center job.

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Politics
8:00 am
Sat December 24, 2011

GOP Walks Away From Payroll Tax Debacle Bruised

Originally published on Sat December 24, 2011 8:25 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Obama is in Hawaii with his family today. Yesterday, just before leaving Washington, D.C., he signed a bill to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits for two months. It was a political victory for the president and for Democrats who had made extending the tax break a priority.

For Republicans in the House of Representatives though, it may have marked a political defeat. NPR's congressional correspondent reporter, Tamara Keith, has more.

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It's All Politics
5:01 am
Wed December 21, 2011

In A Year Of Partisan Brawls, Congress Goes One More Round

President Obama speaks in the White House's Brady Briefing Room on Tuesday. Behind the president, a ticking clock counts down the time until taxes will go up if Congress can't reach an extension deal on payroll tax cuts.
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 10:35 am

In a year of deadlines and political fights, Congress is closing with one last partisan brawl. At stake are billions of dollars in tax breaks and unemployment benefits for millions of Americans set to expire Jan. 1.

Just in case you've been out buying presents, working or not watching C-SPAN with bated breath, what happened Tuesday was that the House — specifically Republicans in the House — rejected a bill that had broad bipartisan support in the Senate.

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It's All Politics
4:43 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Just How Many Jobs Would The Keystone Pipeline Create?

Demonstrators march with a replica of a pipeline during a protest to demand a stop to the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline outside the White House last November.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 7:12 pm

One of the major sticking points between the House and the Senate as they face off over end-of-year legislation is the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The bill the House passed Tuesday contains a provision forcing President Obama to decide on the pipeline within 60 days.

Republicans say this project should move ahead quickly because it will create thousands of jobs. But just how many jobs would be created is a matter of contention.

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Newt Gingrich
2:37 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Analysis: Gingrich's Tax Plan Would Benefit The Rich

Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, seen here during Saturday's ABC debate, is currently leading in GOP polls. His tax plan would introduce a 15 percent flat income tax.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

According to many polls, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now leading the Republican pack. His plan to rewrite the nation's tax policy hasn't gotten as much attention as some of his other proposals, but, according to a new analysis, it would require sweeping changes to the government.

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It's All Politics
12:01 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Congress At Impasse Over Must-Pass Measures

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to reporters at the Capitol on Monday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 12:29 pm

Congress is supposed to head home for the holidays at the end of this week, but there's a whole lot of work to do before then. And for now at least, the parties remain divided over a number of other must-pass measures.

This is the part of the tango of Congress where the Republican House offers a plan.

"The House is going to do its job, and it's time for the Senate then to do its job," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, at a press conference Monday.

Then, as if on cue, the Democratic Senate balked.

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It's All Politics
5:00 am
Fri December 9, 2011

GOP Objects To 'Millionaires Surtax'; Millionaires We Found? Not So Much

For the second week in a row, the Senate on Thursday voted down proposals to extend the payroll tax holiday through next year. In the case of the Democrats' proposal, Republicans objected to the "millionaires surtax" that would be used to pay for it.

Ever since the idea of the surtax was introduced weeks ago, Republicans in Congress have railed against it, arguing that it is a direct hit on small-business owners and other job creators.

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It's All Politics
4:59 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Can Congress Really Compromise On Extending The Payroll Tax Cut?

Congress returned to Washington Monday with a pile of unfinished business, and no clarity on a path to getting it done. At the top of the congressional to-do list this week is extending a payroll tax holiday that meant about $1,000 in extra take-home pay for the typical family this year. It is set to expire at the end of the month.

Congressional leaders from both parties say the payroll tax cut is a must-pass measure. It's just not entirely clear how it's going to happen.

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Presidential Race
8:00 am
Sun December 4, 2011

'Life Can Be A Challenge': Cain Suspends Run

Originally published on Sun December 4, 2011 10:13 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Herman Cain delivered his views to at Atlanta crowd of disappointed supporters.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

HERMAN CAIN: With a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD REACTION)

CORNISH: It was the last stop on the always unconventional journey for the former pizza chain CEO.

NPR's Tamara Keith has this look back at the Cain Train.

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U.S.
6:11 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

GOP Leaders, Lawmakers Differ On Payroll Tax Cut

House Speaker John Boehner wants his Republican colleagues to agree to a payroll tax cut extension.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 3:21 pm

Two different bills calling for an extension of a payroll tax holiday failed to pass the Senate late Thursday, but work on a compromise is continuing on Capitol Hill.

President Obama and Democratic lawmakers put forth concerted efforts to extend the measure, which is set to expire next month. Economists say failure to renew the tax cut, which allows the average American family to keep $900 a year of earnings, would hurt job growth.

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Politics
12:01 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Before Holidays, Congress Still Has Plenty To Do

As soon as this week, the Senate could vote on a bill to extend and expand the payroll tax holiday that gave millions of Americans a bit more money in their paychecks this year.
Brendan Hoffman Getty Images

The congressional to-do list for the month of December is long.

The list includes things like agreeing on a way to keep the federal government funded past the middle of the month, making some routine and annual tax fixes, and deciding whether or not to continue the payroll tax holiday and extended benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Dawn Deane, a 49-year-old human resources professional from Philadelphia is particularly interested in that last item.

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Governing
12:01 am
Mon November 21, 2011

For Debt Committee, No Final Hour Deal Apparent

Monday is the last day the congressional supercommittee can reach a deficit reduction deal and still make its Wednesday deadline. The legislation has to be publicly available for 48 hours before a vote and the clock is ticking, but instead of announcing an agreement, it is widely expected the committee will admit it has failed.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Thu November 17, 2011

Congressional Stock Trades Get Scrutiny

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus faces questions about his stock purchases.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 7:52 pm

The STOCK Act, a bill that would ban members of Congress from trading stock based on nonpublic information they get because they're lawmakers, has 61 co-sponsors and counting. And after years of languishing with only one hearing, the measure is getting one in the House Financial Services Committee.

What's remarkable about this is that the STOCK Act had just nine co-sponsors last week. What changed? The CBS news magazine 60 Minutes did a story about congressional insider trading.

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The Road Back To Work
4:34 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

Squabbles In Washington Frustrate Job Seekers

Ray Meyer, 55, had a 30-year career in banking before losing his job. He's been rolling from one temp assignment to the next since February.
Tamara Keith NPR

Part of an ongoing series

Being unemployed for more than two years changed the way Ray Meyer looks at politics. He has always leaned Republican and used to have little sympathy for those who were receiving unemployment benefits.

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Politics
12:01 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Austrian School Economist Hayek Finds New Fans

Professor Friedrich von Hayek from Austria receives his Nobel Prize in Economy from Swedish King Carl Gustaf, December 1974.
AP

Second in a three-part series

These days it can feel like the country is unsteady — politically, economically. In a search for the way forward, scholars and politicians often turn to their fundamental beliefs. NPR is taking a look at some of the most influential philosophers whose ideas molded the present and could shape the future. You might not know all their names, but you're certainly familiar with their ideas. They are woven into the fabric of our society.

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Herman Cain
3:30 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Cain Donors Stand By Their Man For Now

Herman Cain speaks at a press conference Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz., to rebut charges of sexual harassment.
Eric Thayer Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 9, 2011 8:31 pm

When talking to people who have given to a candidate's campaign, you'd expect to find true believers.

"I liked what I heard, and he seemed to be the kind of person that I would like to see be president of the United States," says Carl Ploeger, who has donated twice to embattled GOP hopeful Herman Cain.

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Election 2012
8:00 am
Sat November 5, 2011

A Week Of Harassment For Herman Cain

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Quite a week for Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. He came to Washington, D.C. for a series of public events and meetings with members of Congress, but decade-old sexual harassment allegations dogged him all week long, and then late yesterday the story took another turn when the lawyer for one of the accusers made a public statement. NPR's Tamara Keith has the latest.

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Politics
5:57 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Groups That Plan To Lobby The Supercommittee

An NPR review found that more than 600 different groups and corporations say they intend to lobby around the work of the deficit reduction committee.

Alykat Flickr

In all, 619 different groups and corporations said they intend to lobby around the work of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known around Capitol Hill as the supercommittee. All of them mentioned the supercommittee or the legislation that created it in their mandatory third-quarter lobbying disclosure forms. Here is an alphabetical list of the organizations:

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Economy
10:38 am
Fri October 28, 2011

Hundreds Try To Influence The Supercommittee

The line for seating in the hearing room of the supercommittee's meeting on Wednesday. An NPR review found that 619 separate interest groups have reported lobbying the group.

Tinna Knuutila Sunlight Foundation

Originally published on Fri October 28, 2011 5:56 pm

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It's All Politics
4:06 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Will Cain's New 9-0-9 Tax Plan Really Help The Poor?

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Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks on Friday while unveiling his "Opportunity Zone" economic plan in front of the Michigan Central Station, an abandoned train depot in Detroit.

Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan has taken a lot of heat recently. One of the biggest criticisms: several independent analysts have found that under the plan, poor and middle class families would pay higher taxes while the richest of the rich would see a substantial tax cut. Today in Detroit, Cain unveiled his response.

"If you're at or below the poverty level, your plan isn't 9-9-9," said Cain with the abandoned Michigan Central Station in the background. "It's 9-0-9."

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