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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Politics
3:37 am
Wed January 16, 2013

House Approves Sandy Aid, Senate Votes Next

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 9:07 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

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It's All Politics
12:50 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Obama (Officially) Wins! Electoral College Votes Tallied Before Congress

Vice President Joe Biden shows the certificate of the Electoral College vote for Ohio to House Speaker John Boehner during a joint session of Congress on Friday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 1:23 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
2:43 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

House GOP Leaves 'Lump Of Coal' In 'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., speaks to reporters about the "fiscal cliff" negotiations at the Capitol on Friday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

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.

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Politics
2:56 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Plug Pulled On 'Plan B,' House Breaks For Christmas

House Speaker John Boehner pauses during a news conference Thursday. House GOP leaders abruptly canceled a vote on his measure after they failed to round up enough votes for it to pass.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

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.

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It's All Politics
3:27 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

House Republicans Face Threat Of Primary Challenges In 'Plan B' Vote

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., shown in 2010, has said he would deserve a primary challenge if he voted for House Speaker John Boehner's "fiscal cliff" proposal, which would extend the Bush-era tax cuts only on income of less than $1 million.
John Hanna AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

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.

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Politics
2:42 am
Fri December 14, 2012

'Fiscal Cliff' Message Repeats Itself

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 4:35 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

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Economy
3:28 am
Tue December 11, 2012

What Happens If We Fall Off The 'Fiscal Cliff'?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 8:55 am

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.

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It's All Politics
3:21 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Boehner Faces Conservative Backlash Over Fiscal Cliff Talks

House Speaker John Boehner appears at a news conference after a House Republican conference meeting Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:40 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
3:01 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Would Raising Taxes On Investment Income Hurt The Economy?

A screen grab from an ad by the Defend My Dividend campaign, which is funded by utilities and other companies. They don't support a proposed increase in taxes from investment income.
YouTube

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 7:53 pm

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It's All Politics
8:10 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Why Dividends, Capital Gains Are Big Part Of Fiscal Cliff Talks

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 11:58 am

As the White House and Congress debate how to steer clear of the fiscal cliff, one obstacle is the president's insistence that the wealthy should pay more in taxes. And one way that could happen is through changing the rules for dividends and capital gains.

If you own a share of stock in a company today, when the company pays out a dividend, the most you're taxed is 15 percent. And if you decide to sell the stock and cash out, you'd also pay 15 percent on your profits — the capital gains.

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It's All Politics
3:30 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Compromise: Devil Is In The Definition Of Revenue

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 10:29 am

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.

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It's All Politics
1:31 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Would Only Dent The Deficit

House Speaker John Boehner, seen last week, discusses the looming fiscal cliff.
Brendan Hoffman Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:30 pm

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.

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Election 2012
3:40 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Ohio Goes Blue, Disappoints Romney Supporters

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 8:31 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

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Election 2012
5:41 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Voter Turnout Appears To Be High In Ohio

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 6:08 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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It's All Politics
3:47 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

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

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 4:34 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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It's All Politics
4:42 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 5:52 pm

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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It's All Politics
2:20 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 3:57 pm

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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Politics
2:47 am
Wed October 17, 2012

How Will Sequestration Effect The Federal Budget

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 11:41 am

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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Fiscal Cliff Notes
1:24 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Could Hit Civilian Pentagon Workers First

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

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 12:23 pm

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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Fiscal Cliff Notes
1:31 am
Mon October 1, 2012

For High Earners, Expiring Tax Cuts Would Hit Hard

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 3:22 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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It's All Politics
12:47 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Payroll Tax Holiday May Not Survive Year's End

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

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 2:46 am

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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It's All Politics
10:15 am
Fri August 17, 2012

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

Twitter.com

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 10:46 am

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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It's All Politics
11:13 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 1:42 pm

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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It's All Politics
3:42 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

New Questions About Timing Of Romney's Bain Departure

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

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 8:37 am

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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Election 2012
1:57 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Bush Tax Cuts: The New Middle-Class Norm

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

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 12:42 pm

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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Politics
2:09 am
Mon July 9, 2012

GOP To Make 31st Attempt To Repeal Obamacare Act

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 11:00 am

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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Politics
3:45 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Tentative Deal On Transportation Reached

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 10:34 am

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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Energy
4:23 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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It's All Politics
1:51 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 3:45 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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Politics
3:49 am
Mon May 28, 2012

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.

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