Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith is a NPR White House Correspondent and co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. During the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton.

Prior to moving into her current role in January 2014, Keith was a Congressional Correspondent who put an emphasis on covering House Republicans, the budget, taxes, and the fiscal fights that dominated at the time. 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 of and solely reported 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 then 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.

Keith earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree at the UCB Graduate School of Journalism. Keith is part of the Politics Monday team on the PBS NewsHour, a weekly segment rounding up the latest political news. Keith 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.

If you're confused about who owns the sequester, what it means and what it will do, you have lots of company.

In Washington, the key players can't even agree on what's at stake, much less find a way to stop the automatic government spending cuts set to begin Friday.

With automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion scheduled to start Friday, Congressional leaders and President Obama continued maneuvering to avoid the political fallout. Melissa Block talks to Tamara Keith about the state of play and has details from a poll that suggests that Americans want to cut the deficit, but only in the abstract.

It seems Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has done his best in recent weeks to get as much ink as possible, talking about things that play well with the conservatives in his home state of South Carolina, like Benghazi and gun rights.

Graham also held up the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary to get more answers about what happened in Benghazi, even as he admitted Hagel had nothing to do with it. But his opposition might have more to do with home state politics than the nomination itself.

In Sumter, S.C., home of Shaw Air Force Base and the 20th Fighter Wing, cars sport bumper stickers that say, "Jet noise is the sound of freedom."

Throughout the day, F-16s on training runs blast from a runway on base, disappearing into the foggy sky. But if automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts slated for March 1 go into effect, there will be a lot less of that sound.

"To cut to that level, we just could not pay for the amount of flying hours that we currently have," says Capt. Ann Blodzinski, the base's chief of public affairs.

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.

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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.

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On March 1st, a big across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, are set to hit almost every corner of federal spending. Many are warning the consequences would be dire.

PETER MCPHERSON: Sequestration is a reckless and a blunt tool that would force deep spending reductions across critical investments in R&D and education.

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It seems like the keyword in Washington these days is deadline: debt ceiling deadlines, tax deadlines, spending cut deadlines. Well, today, President Obama called for a delay on a looming deadline: the automatic spending cuts that are set to kick in on March 1.

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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.

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.

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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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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.

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The 113th Congress was sworn in today, bringing with it a number of firsts. White men now make up a minority of the 200 members in the House Democratic Caucus.

CORNISH: In the Senate, there will be 20 women, an all-time high.

SIEGEL: Also, the first Republican African-American senator in more than three decades.

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.

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Discussions here in Washington are intensifying between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama as they try to find an agreement to avert a raft of year-end spending cuts and tax increases. The two men met today at the White House for 45 minutes. NPR's Tamara Keith joins us now from Capitol Hill with an update. And, Tamara, there does seem to have been something of a breakthrough in negotiations. Speaker Boehner agreed to let tax rates rise. President Obama came back with a counteroffer. Where are we right now?

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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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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.

As Democratic and Republican leaders try to work out a deal to avoid the automatic spending cuts and tax increases of the fiscal cliff, one area they're zeroing in on is investment income.

Raising the rates on capital gains and dividends, even just for the wealthy, would bring in $240 billion over the next decade. That makes them an easy place to look for new revenue.

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.

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.

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