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 NPR.org 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.

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5:34pm

Tue May 17, 2011
It's All Politics

Revenues Up In Some States But Don't Pop Champagne Corks Yet

Not much in the way of good news has come out of state capitals in recent years, with most states struggling with deficits, layoffs and cuts to essential services.

So the spate of good budget news is definitely worth nothing. This week word came that tax revenues were significantly higher than expected in several large states — California, Michigan and New Jersey.

New York earlier forecast it would take in $2 billion more than it anticipated.

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11:10am

Tue May 17, 2011
It's All Politics

Reports: Paul Ryan Won't Attempt Senate Run, Tommy Thompson Will

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican from Wisconsin most identified with the controversial GOP proposal to revamp Medicare, has decided against running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl, according to news reports Tuesday morning.

It's also being reported that Tommy Thompson, 69, the Republican former Wisconsin governor and George W. Bush Administration cabinet member plans to run for the seat.

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6:34pm

Mon May 16, 2011
It's All Politics

Rep. Paul Ryan Defends Medicare Proposal: 'Give Seniors The Power'

With his proposed changes to Medicare being dinged not just from Democrats but GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich as well, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday defended the GOP plan under which the federal government would give future seniors money to pay for private companies for health insurance coverage.

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4:56pm

Mon May 16, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is, In U.S. Government

The White House released financial disclosure forms Monday for both President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Worth noting, especially on this day when the U.S. government reached its debt limit, is that the president, who was made wealthy by the success of his best-selling books, appears to be doing his part to help fund the highly indebted U.S. government.

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3:17pm

Mon May 16, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Tells Memphis High School Grads: Aim Higher Than Reality Show

In his speech to the graduating class of Memphis' Booker T. Washington High School Monday, President Obama went beyond the prepared text handed out to reporters to make a shot at at reality TV that seemed relevant given Monday's Donald Trump news. The aside is in italics.

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1:00pm

Mon May 16, 2011
It's All Politics

Newt Gingrich Becomes Democrats' Weapon Against GOP Medicare Plan

Who knew Newt Gingrich would enter the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and immediately become the Democrats' not-so-secret weapon against the House GOP's Medicare proposal?

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11:34am

Mon May 16, 2011
It's All Politics

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's New Mayor, Ushers In Post-Daley Era

Rahm Emanuel has a delicate problem to navigate on becoming Chicago's 55th mayor Monday.

If he were succeeding an administration of the opposing party he could, justifiably or not, blame his predecessor for all the problems he inherited. But Chicago is effectively a one-party town so that's out.

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10:14pm

Sat May 14, 2011
It's All Politics

Mike Huckabee: 'All The Factors Say Go, But My Heart Says No'

Scratch Mike Huckabee's name from the list of potential Republican presidential nominees seeking to challenge President Obama.

The former Arkansas governor and present-day Fox News Channel host said on his show on that cable outlet that he won't compete for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Huckabee said he ruled out a run despite many indications he could do well in the race for the nomination — widespread grassroots support and polls that showed that he had broader appeal to just social conservatives and also a good chance of winning primaries and caucuses.

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5:31pm

Fri May 13, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Team, Boehner See Vindication In Worsening Medicare, SS Forecasts

Friday's that the outlook for both the Social Security and Medicare trust funds had worsened since last year, that those funds are are likely to run out of money sooner than previously predicted, allowed the Obama Administration and House Republicans to declare the rightness of their approaches to shoring up the programs.

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3:27pm

Fri May 13, 2011
It's All Politics

Mike Huckabee To Say Saturday If He Will Explore Presidential Run

Originally published on Fri May 13, 2011 7:35 pm

Looks like we won't have much longer to wait to answer the question of whether Mike Huckabee, the folksy former Arkansas governor, will compete for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Huckabee will share his intentions on his Fox News Channel show Saturday evening.

There are strong reasons that argue for Huckabee to, at the very least, form an exploratory committee for a presidential run.

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11:19am

Fri May 13, 2011
It's All Politics

Sen. Herb Kohl Of Wisconsin To Retire; Sixth Democrat To Announce Exit

Senate Democrats will have now have one more seat to worry about, with the news that Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin will retire from the Senate.

Kohl, who at 76 has been in the Senate since 1989, was viewed as a relatively safe seat for Democrats since it was thought he could fend off any Republican challenge in part because of his deep pockets as he's done in the past. His money comes from the Kohl's Department Store and grocery change and he owns the Milwaukee Bucks.

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10:02am

Fri May 13, 2011
It's All Politics

Mitt Romney vs Wall Street Journal, Round Two (With Many More To Come)

Mark Twain's great line: "Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel" is clearly dated in the Internet age.

But it was hard not to think of that line Friday morning when reading The Wall Street Journal editorial board's reaction to potential Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's big health care speech in Ann Arbor in which he tried to explain that looking, walking and quacking like a duck doesn't necessarily make something a duck.

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4:28pm

Thu May 12, 2011
It's All Politics

Senate Oil Hearing: Of Tax Breaks And Unicorns

A dog and pony show.

That's what Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called Thursday's Senate hearing at which top executives of the nation's five largest oil companies appeared, summoned by Democrats who wanted the businessmen to explain why their companies still needed certain tax breaks even as they posted eye-popping profits.

Hatch even had a photo of a dog sitting atop a pony enlarged into a chart to help make his point. And the senator seemed mighty proud of his joke which elicited the following exchange with Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Max Baucus:

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12:36pm

Thu May 12, 2011
It's All Politics

McCain Says Bin Laden Death Not Result of Enhanced Detainee Interrogations

The debate over whether the Bush Administration's use of enhanced interrogation techniques on admitted or suspected terrorist detainees led to the U.S. military's killing of Osama bin Laden's has largely fallen along partisan lines.

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6:14pm

Wed May 11, 2011
It's All Politics

White House Defends Rapper Common's East Room Poetry Night Invite

The White House is standing behind its invitation to hip hop artist Common to perform at an evening of poetry at the executive mansion, despite the firestorm in conservative circles.

The choice of Common, whose legal name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., to appear along with other artists Wednesday evening has drawn fierce conservative criticism because the Chicago hip hop artist has spit lyrics during his career that, let us say, expressed a certain anger at former President Bush and cops, among others.

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2:01pm

Wed May 11, 2011
It's All Politics

GOP Freshmen Admit To Playing Politics, Ask Obama To Stop Doing Same

In a fascinating attempt to gain the political high ground, freshmen House Republicans have asked President Obama, and by extension, his fellow Democrats, to stop using what the GOP members call Medicare scare tactics to try and gain political advantage.

The plea for civility comes after Obama and other Democrats have pounded House Republicans for supporting a GOP 2012 budget proposal that would privatize the Medicare program for future seniors, forcing anyone under 55 to buy health coverage from private insurers when they become eligible for the benefit.

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12:30pm

Wed May 11, 2011
It's All Politics

Report: Boehner's Economic View Diverges From Data, History

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the former senator from New York who died in 2003, bequeathed us one of the killer lines of American politics: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts."

It's in that spirit that Bloomberg News' James Dowling and Mike Dorning report that some of the assertions made by Speaker John Boehner's in the big economic policy speech he gave in New York earlier this week seem to fall into the "his own facts" category.

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5:57pm

Tue May 10, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Makes Economic Argument To Americans For Immigration Overhaul

President Obama realizes he has a problem on the immigration front.

Actually, he has a few problems. But one of the gnarliest is that the notion of providing millions of illegal immigrants with a path to legalization raises the economic anxiety of millions of Americans.

Even before the housing bubble burst in 2007, overhauling immigration was a heavy lift. That's even more true now with Americans much more worried about jobs than they were the last time Congress and a president, then George W. Bush, tried to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.

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3:55pm

Tue May 10, 2011
It's All Politics

Karl Rove-Linked Group Tries To Save GOP House Seat In NY From Democrats

The special election to fill New York's vacant 26th Congressional District is being widely viewed as the latest test of Republican and Democratic political fortunes.

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12:53pm

Tue May 10, 2011
It's All Politics

Wall Street Takes Boehner Debt Limit Speech In Stride

Judging by the reported reaction as well as the bond market Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner's speech to the Economic Club of New York the night before apparently did little to shake Wall Street's confidence that Washington policymakers will, in the end, agree in time to raise the federal debt ceiling.

According to news reports, the financial types who attended the speech didn't seem outwardly alarmed by Boehner saying that any approval to boost the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by a certain amount would need to be accompanied by even larger spending cuts.

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11:06am

Tue May 10, 2011
It's All Politics

For Obama And Democrats, Immigration Overhaul A Political No-Brainer

It's a given of American politics. The president and political party that can achieve immigration reform, or at the very least appear to be trying hard to do so, are likely to gain the loyalty of voters with ties to recent-immigrant communities.

Also, it's clearly not sustainable for the U.S. to have relatively poor control of its borders and an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the shadows.

That's the backdrop for President Obama's visit to the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday, El Paso, Tex. specifically, to talk immigration reform.

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6:09pm

Mon May 9, 2011
It's All Politics

Boehner Says A U.S. Default Isn't Worst Fiscal Woe; Democrats Beg To Differ

The posturing between Republicans and Democrats over raising the debt ceiling continued apace Monday.

Excerpts released late in the day of what was being billed as a major policy speech by Speaker John Boehner at the Economic Club of New York Monday evening revealed a fairly hardline position likely to resonate with the Tea Party movement segment of the party but leave Democrats cold.

Boehner will say, for instance, that while not raising the debt ceiling would be "irresponsible," even more irresponsible would be to not make real cuts in federal spending.

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2:03pm

Mon May 9, 2011
It's All Politics

Gingrich, No Unifier Even Inside GOP, Decides To Run

It looks like Newt Gingrich has decided to ignore the advice of conservative columnist John Podhoretz that he shouldn't run for the White House.

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9:45am

Mon May 9, 2011
It's All Politics

Jon Huntsman's South Carolina Debut Suggests It's Wrong To Write Him Off

The conventional wisdom on Jon Huntsman, former U.S. ambassador to China and ex-Utah governor, is that if he should announce a run for the Republican presidential nomination, his candidacy would readily be sunk by the WOE (Was Obama's Emissary) factor.

According to the same thinking, complimentary things Huntsman said about the president, and vice versa, would disqualify him in the eyes of enough GOP primary and caucus voters to prevent him from getting the 2012 nomination. The Obama re-election campaign certainly hopes that's the dynamic.

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1:30pm

Fri May 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Speaker Boehner Chooses Steakhouse Over First GOP Presidential Debate

Now I don't feel so badly.

I missed the first Republican presidential debate of the election cycle because of other responsibilities.

And I apparently was in good company. CBS News' Hotsheet blog reported that Speaker John Boehner also missed the debate co-sponsored by Fox News Channel and the South Carolina Republican Party.

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11:45am

Fri May 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Still Searching For Significantly Lower Jobless Rate

If President Obama could send Navy SEAL commandos into action to find, say, a six percent jobless rate the way they cornered Osama bin Laden, Democrats might feel a lot more confidence about the 2012 election landscape than they do.

But, alas, even Navy SEALs have limits.

The Labor Department reported Friday what should have been the unabashed good news that the economy had an unexpectedly large net gain of 244,000 jobs in April.

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7:14pm

Thu May 5, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Birth Certificate Was Like Kryptonite To Birtherism

When President Obama decided to make public a copy of his actual birth certificate, some people thought it was a mistake for him to do so, that he was needlessly dignifying those on the fringe who doubted he was born in Hawaii.

Looks like the president's political instincts were solid.

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6:15pm

Thu May 5, 2011
It's All Politics

Would Americans Be Willing To Pay A Mileage Tax?

Would Americans be willing to pay a tax based on the mileage they drive with the money raised going to fix the nation's highways and bridges?

Maybe. Then again, anyone who knows how Americans feel about their cars and and how important getting out on the open road is to so many of us can be excused for having doubts.

Still, the federal gas tax isn't raising enough money. First, the 18.4 cents a gallon tax hasn't been raised since 1993. That isn't a typo.

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4:49pm

Thu May 5, 2011
It's All Politics

Report: David Koch Calls Obama Socialist Who Deserves Little Bin Laden Credit

Looks like billionaire David Koch is getting himself psyched up for the 2012 general election.

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4:09pm

Thu May 5, 2011
It's All Politics

AP, Reuters To Skip SC Republican Debate To Protest Restrictions

Associated Press and Reuters photographers are pretty much everywhere news occurs, be it war zones, Super Bowls and the myriad of lesser events that are soon forgotten.

But they apparently won't be at Thursday night's Greenville, SC debate between some of those Republicans mulling a run for their party's presidential nomination.

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