Frank James

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

"The Two-Way" is the place where gives readers breaking news and analysis — and engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

James came to NPR from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 20 years. In 2006, James created "The Swamp," the paper's successful politics and policy news blog whose readership climbed to a peak of 3 million page-views a month.

Before that, James covered homeland security, technology and privacy and economics in the Tribune's Washington Bureau. He also reported for the Tribune from South Africa and covered politics and higher education.

James also reported for The Wall Street Journal for nearly 10 years.

James received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Dickinson College and now serves on its board of trustees.



Wed September 14, 2011
It's All Politics

GOP's Bob Turner Wins Weiner's House Seat In N.Y. Upset

Republicans had reasons to cheer and Democrats to despair Wednesday with the upset special election victory in New York City of a Republican retired businessman who will complete the congressional term of Anthony Weiner, the Democrat who exited the U.S. House because of a sexting scandal.

Bob Turner, a 70-year old former cable television executive, beat David Weprin, a 55-year old, state assemblyman, in a district which had, until Tuesday, been reliably Democratic for nearly 100 years.

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Tue September 13, 2011
It's All Politics

Rick Perry Takes Tea Party Debate Licking, Keeps Ticking; Race Seems Stable

Stop Rick Perry.

That was the goal of the other Republican presidential candidates who came to the CNN/Tea Party Express debate Monday evening, to make GOP voters see the Texas governor and front-runner for their party's presidential nomination as less of a shiny new object and more as damaged goods.

By the end of the two-hour debate in Tampa, Fla., his rivals may not have knocked him out of the lead but they gave any Republican voters with doubts about Perry plenty more to fuel their concerns.

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Mon September 12, 2011
It's All Politics

Tea Party White House Debate Question: Can Romney, Bachmann Rebound?

A worker cleans the stage for Monday evening's Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express, Sept. 12, 2011.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Hard on the heels of last week's Republican presidential candidate in which Texas Gov. Rick Perry made his first appearance, comes another gathering, this one hosted by the Tea Party Express and carried by CNN Monday night at 8 pm ET.

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Fri September 9, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama, Nation In Uncharted Economic Territory, Jobs Plan Or Not

Originally published on Fri September 9, 2011 3:23 pm

President Obama arrives in Richmond, Va to talk jobs, Sept. 9, 2011.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

One of the most unsettling truths facing President Obama and the nation is that there really was little precedent in modern history for the financial crisis that hit the globe in 2007 and continues.

As economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff note in "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," their examination of economic crises going back eight centuries:

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Thu September 8, 2011
It's All Politics

Perry, Romney Rivalry Still Shapes GOP Race After Reagan Library Debate

Candidates (L to R) Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman, Jr. take the stage before the start of the Ronald Reagan Centennial GOP Presidential Primary Candidates Debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Wednesday in Simi Valley, Calif.
David McNew Getty Images

Coming into Wednesday's Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library, many of the questions revolved around Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the newest entrant in the field and instant frontrunner.

How well would he perform his first time on the national debate stage? Would he emerge from the debate with his momentum intact or deliver up a gaffe that would stop it cold?

Also, how would he handle the inevitable questions about controversial attacks on entitlement programs in his book Fed Up, including his derision of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme?

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Wed September 7, 2011
It's All Politics

GOP Reagan Library Debate: What To Expect

The Republican presidential debate from the Ronald Reagan library in Southern California will be voters' first chance to see the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, on the same stage with Mitt Romney, the previous pack leader.

Yes, there will be other candidates on the stage, all of whom have their various supporters who still believe, more or less.

But it takes a prodigious imagination to see a clear path to the nomination for the two current members of Congress now in the field, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann.

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Tue September 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Mitt Romney's (Steve) Jobs Plan

Was that a jobs plan Mitt Romney unveiled Tuesday or a Steve Jobs plan?

Wanting voters to see him as the political version of the black turtleneck-clad business visionary, Romney compared himself not only to Jobs but to someone using a smartphone (President Obama was still in the coin-operated payphone world, Romney said.)

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Wed August 24, 2011
It's All Politics

Gallup: Rick Perry Opens 12-Point Lead Over Mitt Romney

There really is a new sheriff in town or, more precisely, frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and he's Texas Gov. Rick Perry who has opened a 29 percent to 17 percent lead over Mitt Romney with Republican voters, according to a new Gallup poll.

Another interesting result: Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was in third place with 13 percent, clearly placing him in the vaunted top tier. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota was in fourth place at 10 percent.

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Wed August 24, 2011
It's All Politics

Romney To Skip DeMint's S. Carolina Labor Day Candidates' Forum

Mitt Romney signaled Wednesday that he doesn't see South Carolina as key to the presidential nomination. His campaign said he won't attend Sen. Jim DeMint's South Carolina Labor Day forum for presidential candidates.

A Romney spokesman cited scheduling conflicts. But by not attending the South Carolina event, Romney fuels speculation that his strategy may be to invest significantly less of himself in the Palmetto State than he did in 2008.

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Wed August 24, 2011
It's All Politics

Most U.S. House Members Not Doing Town Hall Meetings

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 12:57 pm

A Royal Caribbean recruiter (c) hands out an application at a Congressional Black Caucus jobs fair in Miami, Aug. 23, 2011.
Lynne Sladky AP

If your member of Congress is holding town-hall meetings during their summer recess to discuss the great issues of the day with you and their other constituents, he or she is in the minority.

The non-partisan group No Labels, created as a refuge for voters favoring pragmatic, less ideological solutions to the nation's problems, surveyed U.S. House members and found that 60 percent weren't holding town hall meetings this summer.

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Fri August 19, 2011
It's All Politics

Mitt Romney Gets Unintentional Help From Rest Of GOP Field

All indications are that Mitt Romney has a real primary fight on his hands. Long suspected as being a Republican in Name Only by many of his party's hard-core conservatives, he's faced with two rivals for the GOP presidential nomination — Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — with strong appeal to that key segment of the party.

But Romney has some critical advantages. Not the least of them is he's been a presidential candidate before, running against a politician — Sen. John McCain — who was an experienced national campaigner himself.

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Wed August 17, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Prepares Ground For Campaign Against 'Do-Nothing Congress'

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 12:39 pm

President Obama works rope line in Atkinson, Ill., Aug. 17, 2011.
Carolyn Kaster AP

It's safe to say President Obama probably isn't going to get much of anything that can be seen as an initiative of his administration through Congress in the next 15 months.

Obama and congressional Republicans have two entirely different prescriptions for how to create jobs, for instance. Obama emphasizes investments in infrastructure that would employ construction workers, for instance.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans argue that their agenda of tax cuts and fewer regulations would cure a too-high jobless rate.

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Tue August 16, 2011
It's All Politics

Ron Paul Wears Invisibility Cloak In News Media's Eyes

Busted. That's what we in the news media are in the matter of the presidential campaign of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

Famous and not so famous critics have pointed out in the past day that journalists for the most part have ignored Paul even when he succeeds at a level other Republican presidential candidates haven't.

As far as many political reporters have been concerned, the congressman might as well be wearing one of those Harry Potter invisibility cloaks. He's there but we apparently can't see him.

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Tue August 16, 2011
It's All Politics

Rick Perry Stirs Firestorm By Accusing Fed Chair Bernanke Of Near Treason

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 10:56 am

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Aug. 15, 2011.
Charles Dharapak AP

Texas Gov. Rick Perry only officially entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination Saturday and already by Tuesday he was raising plenty of eyebrows with his warning that he would consider it an act of treason if Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke took further extraordinary steps to boost the sagging economy.

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Mon August 15, 2011
It's All Politics

Bus-Touring Obama Goes After GOP Presidential Hopefuls

President Obama's Midwest bus trip is part listening tour to show that he's concerned about the problems of actual Americans, part rolling bully pulpit that gives him a chance to make the case for compromise (and to blame congressional Republicans for not doing enough on that score.)

But it also was a chance to try and score a few points on the would-be Republican nominees.

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Sun August 14, 2011
It's All Politics

Tim Pawlenty Exits 2012 Presidential Race After Poor Iowa Showing

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 11:59 am

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the 2012 presidential race on Sunday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Tim Pawlenty made headlines Sunday but not the sort he had hoped to. He announced on ABC News' This Week that he has dropped out of the hunt for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination after coming in a disappointing third in Iowa's Ames Straw Poll.

His campaign, he said:

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Fri August 12, 2011
It's All Politics

Iowa Debate Leaves Romney Unscathed As Bachmann, Pawlenty Rumble

The front-runner for a major party's presidential nomination is always happiest when his intraparty rivals turn their attacks on each other instead of him.

So by that measure, Mitt Romney had to be very pleased indeed because he was left largely unmolested by the seven other Republican candidates contending for the party's presidential nomination at the debate at Iowa State University Thursday evening.

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Thu August 11, 2011
It's All Politics

Iowa GOP Debate: What To Expect

Based on everything we've seen so far in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, what should we expect from the candidates at Thursday's debate at Iowa State University in Ames?

In the two-hour Fox News/Iowa GOP debate to start at 9 pm ET, Mitt Romney, the frontrunner, will likely stick tightly to his message, which is that President Obama has failed to lead, and his approach, which is to play it safe.

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Thu August 11, 2011
It's All Politics

Pelosi Chooses Clyburn, Van Hollen, Becerra For Deficits Super Panel

Three lawmakers who are typically forceful advocates for a progressive agenda were picked by Rep. Nancy Pelosi to fill out the supercommittee that will propose more than $1 trillion in federal spending cuts meant to reduce federal deficits.

Pelosi, the House minority leader, chose representatives Jim Clyburn of S. Carolina, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Xavier Becerra of California to represent House Democrats on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

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Wed August 10, 2011
It's All Politics

Wisconsin Republicans Repel Democrats, Retain State Senate Control

Wisconsin state capitol, March 2011.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

It was certainly closer than Wisconsin's Republicans would have preferred, but in the end they successfully repelled Democrats who sought to wrest away control of the state Senate and break GOP dominance over the Badger State's government.

Democrats fell one Senate seat short of the three they needed to take over that chamber in the state's largest recall election ever in which six seats were contested.

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Wed August 3, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama, Democrats 'Pivot' To Jobs But May Be Hamstrung

What Washington was worried about and what many Americans have been haunted by has seemed out of synch in recent weeks.

The fiery Washington debate was about the debt-ceiling, while the concerns of millions of Americans was about jobs, either finding or keeping one.

For Washington Democrats, the debt ceiling debate was a distraction from the jobs message they view as key to their re-election efforts.

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Tue August 2, 2011
It's All Politics

Harry Reid: GOP Must OK Tax Increases Or Ax Falls On Defense

Democrats may have yielded on their demand for tax increases to Republicans to achieve the the debt-ceiling deal President Obama signed into law Tuesday.

But Sen. Harry Reid had a warning for congressional Republicans when he talked Tuesday with Michele Norris, co-host of All Things Considered. Later this year when Congress has to decide on additional ways to cut federal deficits, Democrats intend to stand firm on the need for more tax revenues, the Senate minority leader said.

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Tue August 2, 2011
It's All Politics

Now History, Debt-Ceiling Fight Left Much Wreckage In Its Wake

Originally published on Tue August 2, 2011 4:13 pm

President Obama walks back to the Oval Office after speaking about the Senate's passage of debt-ceiling legislation, at the White House on Tuesday.
Carolyn Kaster AP

With the Senate's passage of the debt-ceiling legislation and President Obama having signed it Tuesday afternoon, the nation no longer needs to worry about defaultmageddon, at least not until early 2013 when the U.S. Treasury once again runs out of the room to borrow again.

But even though there wasn't a default, the fight left plenty of wreckage laying about.

Among the casualties was Obama. Yes, he seemed to have narrowly averted becoming the first president to have the nation default during his term.

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Fri July 29, 2011
It's All Politics

Boehner Debt Plan, Revived By Balanced Budget Inclusion, May Have Votes

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OH) (L) and Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) (R) pretend to twist the arms of Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH), July 29. 2011.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

How does Speaker John Boehner, on Friday, get to the 216 House votes he needs to pass the debt-ceiling bill he couldn't get the votes for on Thursday?

He agrees to add a balanced-budget amendment provision to his legislation.

That addition appears to be enough to swing some Republican lawmakers to his side who had previously been against his bill or undecided.

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Thu July 28, 2011
It's All Politics

Boehner Speakership Hits Tea Party Iceberg

Just as the Washington narrative had started to shift a bit from "House Speaker John Boehner doesn't have the juice to get his conference to support him" to "Boehner is getting his fellow Republicans to rally around him" it shifts back to the former.

That's because he was unable to get enough members of the Republican conference to commit to voting for his debt-ceiling increase.

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Tue July 26, 2011
It's All Politics

Rep. David Wu Is Resigning; Was House's First Chinese-American Lawmaker

Rep. David Wu, the first Chinese-American to serve in the House, announced Tuesday that he will resign, ending what seemed to be headed toward becoming another embarrassing congressional sex scandal.

The Oregon Democrat faced a House ethics investigation after allegations surfaced that he had what is being widely described as an "unwanted sexual encounter" with a teenager. The young person was the daughter of Wu's childhood friend.

The Oregonian reported:

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Sat July 23, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama-Boehner Breakdown Leaves Many Questions, Fewer Answers

President Obama leaves the White House press briefing room after discussing the breakdown in debt-ceiling talks with Speaker John Boehner, July 22, 2011.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Now that the one-on-one debt ceiling talks between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner have broken down, there are obviously more questions than answers about what exactly happened and where matters go from here.

Let's go through just a few of them.

The meta question is obviously will the nation's leaders be able to achieve a deal to raise the debt ceiling before Aug. 2, the date beyond which, the U.S. Treasury says, it won't be able to fend off a default?

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Fri July 22, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama, Boehner Debt Talks Cause Congress' Democrats To Hit Ceiling

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner at a White House meeting, July 13, 2011.

The business day had barely begin Friday in the U.S. Capitol when Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, issued a caution to fellow Democrat President Obama and Republican Speaker John Boehner on their negotiations to reach a deal to raise the deficit ceiling.

Reid said:

We all know... there are talks going on between President Obama and Speaker Boehner. I wish them well. We await their efforts. I'm told there will be revenue measures in there. If that's the case, we know Constitutionally the matter must start in the House of Representatives.

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Wed July 20, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Could Agree To Brief Debt-Ceiling Extension With Conditions

In recent weeks, White House aides have left the very strong impression that President Obama wouldn't approve any short-term extension of the debt ceiling just for the sake of avoiding default on Aug 2 or shortly thereafter.

The aim of that warning seemed to be the president's intention to avoid prolonging the debt-ceiling debate any longer than needed. The risks created for the U.S. and global economies by a continuing threat of a U.S. default are just too great.

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Tue July 19, 2011
It's All Politics

Second Senate Debt-Ceiling Effort Raises Pressure On House GOP

House Republicans arguably found themselves under even more pressure Tuesday as a renewed bipartisan effort emerged in the Senate to reach a debt-ceiling agreement to avoid a U.S. government default on its obligations.

The Gang of Six, a group of Democratic and Republican senators trying to bridge Congress' fiscal disagreements, came forward with a package of spending cuts and higher taxes to significantly cut deficits.

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