Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith joined NPR in 2009 as NPR's newest business reporter. Her coverage spans the business world, from the latest trends in housing and consumer spending to new developments in the ongoing financial crisis. In her work, Keith aspires to "make business stories relatable to all our listeners, not just those who read the Wall Street Journal." In early 2010, she was one of NPR's reporters on the ground in Haiti covering the aftermath of the country's disasterous earthquake.

Keith has covered the major stories of the global recession, including developments in housing and banking, as well as everyday business stories for national and local public radio news outlets. Over the course of her career, she has covered other major news events including wildfires in California and the coal ash spill in Tennessee.

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. After earning her a journalism graduate degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley (where it was reported she was the youngest person to ever enroll), she went to work for NPR station KQED's California Report, where she covered topics including agriculture and the environment. She then went east to WOSU-AM in Columbus, Ohio, where she reported on politics and the 2004 presidential campaign. Then it was back to her home state of California where she reported again for KQED and KPCC/Southern California Public Radio. Tamara also refined her business reporting skills through work with American Public Media's Marketplace.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a first place trophy from the Society of Environmental Journalists for "Outstanding Story Radio."

In her spare time, she hosts and produces "B-Side Radio," an hour-long public radio magazine and podcast.

She is a recreational triathlete and half-marathon runner. Her husband is a cancer researcher and veterinarian.

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4:34pm

Mon December 9, 2013
Politics

Congress Tries To Craft Budget Deal Before Holiday Break

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 10:45 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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3:05am

Wed December 4, 2013
The Salt

Why $7-Per-Gallon Milk Looms Once Again

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:29 pm

Sticker shock in the dairy aisle? If the government fails to pass the farm bill, milk prices could spike sometime after the first of the year.
George Frey Landov

The leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees are meeting Wednesday as they continue to try to work out the differences between their respective farm bills. If they fail, the country faces what's being called the "dairy cliff" — with milk prices potentially shooting up to about $7 a gallon sometime after the first of the year.

Here's why: The nation's farm policy would be legally required to revert back to what's called permanent law. In the case of dairy, that would be the 1949 farm bill.

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5:09pm

Mon December 2, 2013
Politics

Unemployment Benefit Program Set To Expire At Year's End

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 7:12 pm

Job seekers attend a March health care job fair in New York.
Mark Lennihan AP

More than 1 million people will see their extended unemployment benefits immediately cut off at the end of the month if Congress doesn't act.

An emergency federal benefit program was put in place during the recession to help those who are unemployed longer than six months. That allowed them to get as much as a year and a half of help while they searched for work, even after state benefits ran out.

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1:27pm

Tue November 19, 2013
It's All Politics

Senate Finance Chairman Floats International Tax Code Overhaul

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 5:20 pm

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., arrives for a hearing with Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on Capitol Hill last month.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The U.S. tax code is messy, complicated and full of loopholes. And if you're searching for the most incomprehensible, technically dense part of that code, international tax law would be a good place to start.

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2:56am

Thu October 10, 2013
Business

When It Comes To Jobs, Not All Small Businesses Make It Big

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 4:38 pm

Sweetgreen co-founders Nathaniel Ru (from left), Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet at the opening of a Virginia location last year.
Courtesy of Sweetgreen

Part of a series about small businesses in America

When it comes to job creation, politicians talk about small businesses as the engines of the U.S. economy. It's been a familiar refrain among politicians from both major parties for years.

But it obscures the economic reality. It makes a nice slogan, but it's not really accurate to say that small businesses produce most of the nation's new jobs, says John Haltiwanger, an economics professor at the University of Maryland.

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6:05pm

Wed October 9, 2013
It's All Politics

GOP Shutdown Strategy Gives House A Twilight Zone Feel

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 6:51 pm

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., holds a news conference Oct. 3 with the GOP Doctors Caucus — members of the House who are medical professionals by training — to talk about how the government shutdown is affecting medical research.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

With little progress being made to resolve the government shutdown, House Republicans have decided on a piecemeal strategy.

They have been voting to reopen small pieces of the government — for example, on Wednesday, they approved bills paying for the Federal Aviation Administration and for death benefits to the families of service members.

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5:17am

Thu October 3, 2013
Politics

Why A Handful Of Hard-Liners Has A Hold On Boehner

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 12:53 pm

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to the media after a meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

To understand House Speaker John Boehner's role in the government shutdown, you have to understand the 30 or so House Republican hard-liners and his relationship with them.

It's an uneasy one at best.

"Listen, we've got a diverse caucus," was how Boehner put it in mid-September, shortly after the 30 forced him to ditch his original plan for a temporary government funding bill.

"Whenever we're trying to put together a plan, we've got 233 members — all of whom have their own plan," he said. "It's tough to get them on the same track. We got there."

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8:22pm

Mon September 30, 2013
NPR Story

Senate Rejects House Spending Bill

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 10:09 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And on Capitol Hill, words of anger and frustration today over the increasing likelihood of a government shutdown. This morning in the House, members of both parties took to the floor and pointed fingers.

REPRESENTATIVE EARL BLUMENAUER: If you're serious about working together to solve problems, why don't you work together to solve problems?

REPRESENTATIVE TED POE: Where oh where has the Senate gone? Where oh where can they be? With time so short and issues so long, where oh where has the Senate gone?

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7:46am

Sat September 21, 2013
Politics

What's Next In The Congressional Budget Showdown?

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 11:34 am

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks at a Republican rally Friday after the House passed a measure that would temporarily fund the government while crippling President Obama's health care law. The Senate is not expected to follow suit.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The House has passed a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government open through Dec. 15. It passed almost entirely along party lines: In addition to funding the government, it calls for defunding of the Affordable Care Act.

The White House has said President Obama would veto the bill, were it to come to his desk in this form. And it most likely won't. Democrats, who control the Senate, won't pass a bill that defunds Obamacare.

Which raises the question, now what?

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3:28am

Fri September 20, 2013
It's All Politics

House Nears Vote To Fund Government, Defund Obamacare

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 11:18 am

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, talks about the deadline to fund the government Thursday on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The Republican-controlled House is set to vote Friday on a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open for business through the middle of December. And the White House has already said if it makes it to the president's desk, he'll veto it. That's because the bill also would defund the Affordable Care Act.

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12:03pm

Tue September 17, 2013
It's All Politics

CBO Report Warns Of Long-Term Debt Problems

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 4:04 pm

Copies of President Obama's proposed budget plan for fiscal year 2014 are prepared for delivery at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington in April 2013.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

There's plenty of fodder for deficit hawks in a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In short, the future looks grim.

The 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook finds that although in the short term the deficit is expected to decline, it will grow again — and, ultimately, in a big way.

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4:58am

Fri September 13, 2013
Politics

Without Action, Government Will Shut Down At Month's End

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 5:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, the future shape of the economy will be influenced, in part, by negotiations in Congress this month. What could possibly go wrong? If Congress doesn't act by the end of this month, there will be a partial government shutdown and then in October a fight over the debt ceiling looms. Some Republicans want to rerun a tactic they used in 2011, refusing to borrow to pay for commitments Congress previously made unless the White House agrees to Republican budget demands. NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith has the latest.

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6:18pm

Wed September 11, 2013
Politics

Conservatives Use Budget Deadline To Revive Obamacare Debate

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 7:03 pm

Linda Norman (right) and Joanna Galt, both from Florida, hold their banners during a rally against the health care law Tuesday outside the U.S. Capitol.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

With the pause button pushed on the congressional debate over Syria, the House is turning its attention back to the issue that is expected to dominate the fall: the budget.

The long-running fight over spending and the debt is back. The House was supposed to act this week to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, and leaders had hoped to avoid drama. But the vote has been delayed, and drama is brewing.

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3:43am

Mon August 26, 2013
It's All Politics

In Arkansas, The Senate Battle Is Already Brutal

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 5:03 am

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., speaks at the Rice Expo in Stuttgart, Ark., on Aug. 2.
Danny Johnston AP

5:11pm

Thu August 15, 2013
Politics

Floor Charts A Key Part Of Congressional Messaging

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 6:02 pm

Watch C-SPAN long enough and you'll see members of Congress using big visual aids, known by Capitol insiders as floor charts. We explore where the charts come from and how they've become an essential part of congressional messaging. (This piece originally aired on Morning Edition on July 23.)

5:13pm

Wed August 7, 2013
It's All Politics

4 Years After Fiery Town Halls, Activists Try To Revive Spark

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 12:24 pm

Members of the audience argue before a town hall forum on the health care overhaul hosted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, in Reston, Va., on Aug. 25, 2009.
Charles Dharapak AP

It's been four years since protests of the president's health care agenda boiled over in town hall meetings around the country.

The summer of 2009 marked the rise of the Tea Party movement and set in motion the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives the following year.

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3:29am

Tue August 6, 2013
It's All Politics

On The Road With Max And Dave: A Tax Overhaul Tour

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 9:18 am

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., (center) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., (right) speak about overhauling the tax code at the 3M Innovation Center in Maplewood, Minn., on July 8.
Hannah Foslien AP

Ask Americans about the most pressing concerns for the nation, and overhauling the tax code probably isn't all that high on the list — that is, unless those Americans happen to be Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairmen of the congressional tax-writing committees.

The two lawmakers are on a mission to simplify the tax code.

When they're out on the road selling that tax overhaul, they don't wear ties and they skip much of the formality of Washington — like last names even. Just call them Max and Dave.

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2:59am

Tue July 23, 2013
Politics

How Floor Charts Became Stars Of Congress

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 11:26 am

http://senatecharts.tumblr.com/

Watch C-SPAN long enough, and you'll see members of Congress using visual aids: big, brightly colored poster boards, known on Capitol Hill as floor charts.

They've become an essential part of congressional messaging.

Almost every day the House of Representatives is in session, lawmakers line up to give what are known as one-minute speeches. Florida Democrat Frederica Wilson is always there.

And she always has her floor chart with her. It displays the number of days since Wilson came to Congress and the number of Americans unemployed.

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7:02pm

Tue July 16, 2013
The Two-Way

READ: The Theft Complaint Filed Against Bachmann Aide

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 12:11 pm

Two envelopes filled with cash. A hidden camera. The office of a high-profile politician.

Sounds like a John Grisham novel.

The end result? Maybe not so dramatic.

As NPR's Tamara Keith tells us:

A now-former staffer for Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has been arrested for allegedly stealing cash from the desk drawer of a co-worker.

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2:30am

Sun July 14, 2013
News

A Bipartisan Duo Takes Tax Pitch On The Road

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 2:11 pm

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. left, and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., speak about overhauling tax policy to an audience at the 3M tech company on Monday.
Hannah Foslien AP

Congress is setting up for a showdown this fall on the budget, the debt ceiling and possibly immigration.

But another item on the agenda hasn't been getting as much attention: changing tax policy. The chairmen of the two tax-writing committees have been working for years, holding hearings, releasing white papers, even hosting bipartisan tax chat lunches at a pub — often with little notice.

Dave Camp is a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Max Baucus is a Montana Democrat and leads the Senate Finance Committee.

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7:16am

Sat July 13, 2013
Politics

If The IRS Targeted The Left, Too, Will The House Hear It?

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 1:43 pm

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He's released documents that suggest that the IRS targeted progressives as well as Tea Party groups.
Alex Wong Getty Images

The House Oversight Committee will hold its latest hearing next week into how the IRS handled the applications of groups seeking tax exempt status. The hearings have morphed from a scandal over the targeting of Tea Party groups into something broader.

It all started when a report from IRS Inspector General J. Russell George said groups with Tea Party in their name were targeted for extra scrutiny for possible political activity. When asked if progressive groups were also targeted, he said no.

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9:44am

Fri July 12, 2013
It's All Politics

Top Democrat Says Documents Show IRS Also Targeted Liberals

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 12:04 pm

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (right) speaks with the committee's ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, during a hearing last month.
Charles Dharapak AP

Newly released documents appear to further undermine the idea that Tea Party groups were the only ones given extra scrutiny by the IRS for potential political activity.

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4:53pm

Thu July 11, 2013
NPR Story

Resurrected Farm Bill Passes Without Food Stamps Component

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 5:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. The farm bill is back. Three weeks ago, the House surprised Hill watchers when Democrats and Republicans alike voted against the bill. Well, today, they passed it - narrowly. In today's bill, though, a huge component was missing. As NPR's Tamara Keith reports, House leaders stripped out the section of the bill that deals with food stamps.

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4:21pm

Wed July 10, 2013
NPR Story

Conservative Group Picks Primary Fight With GOP Incumbent

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 7:40 pm

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is being challenged in next year's Republican primary by a candidate backed by the Club for Growth.
John Miller AP

An influential conservative group is going after longtime Republican Rep. Mike Simpson from Idaho — and it's getting started nearly a year in advance of the 2014 primary.

The Club for Growth is throwing its weight behind GOP challenger Bryan Smith, calling him a fiscal conservative: anti-tax and pro-growth. The lawyer from Idaho Falls is the first candidate endorsed through a website the club launched earlier this year called PrimaryMyCongressman.com.

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5:32pm

Thu June 27, 2013
It's All Politics

Inspector General Changes Tune On IRS Scandal

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 1:10 pm

Outgoing acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Steve Miller (right) and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George are sworn in before a full House Ways and Means Committee hearing in May.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Changing its story. Walking it back. Clarifying.

Whatever you call it, the IRS inspector general now has a different account of what investigators knew about the ideologies of the groups that underwent extra scrutiny as they sought tax-exempt status.

Inspector General J. Russell George explained in a letter released Thursday morning that investigators knew all along "progressives" were listed in documents used by IRS agents to screen applications.

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7:07pm

Tue June 25, 2013
It's All Politics

Democrats Want Answers On 'Progressives' Targeted By IRS

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., listens as ousted IRS Chief Steve Miller and J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration, testify during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on May 17.
Charles Dharapak AP

Congressional Democrats say Tea Party groups weren't the only ones being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service. And they have released some documents that they say prove it.

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4:46am

Tue June 25, 2013
Business

IRS Systematically Targeted 'Progressive' Groups Too

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 11:10 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

The scandal at the Internal Revenue Service is becoming more of a muddle. We're learning more this morning about which groups were targeted for extra scrutiny. Turns out both conservative groups and progressive groups were on the so-called Be on the Lookout List at the IRS. Meanwhile, the man currently leading the agency says an internal investigation has found no evidence of intentional wrong doing.

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2:11pm

Thu June 20, 2013
Politics

4 Facts You Might Not Have Known About The IRS Scandal

Originally published on Mon July 8, 2013 1:52 pm

Dennis Brack Landov

For a little more than a month now, we've been reporting on the IRS's flagging of Tea Party and conservative groups for extra scrutiny. Through it all, some basic questions remain: Who ordered the targeting? And why?

We don't have any satisfying answers to those questions yet — and it seems neither do the congressional investigators. But along the way, as new revelations have trickled out, we've noticed some surprising and even puzzling facts about the situation that haven't gotten much attention.

Here are four of them:

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9:34am

Wed June 19, 2013
It's All Politics

IRS Staffer: 'What I Did Was Not Targeting'

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 11:18 am

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (right) speaks with the committee's ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, earlier this month, during a hearing on IRS conference spending.
Charles Dharapak AP

Another interview with a key IRS employee, another oblique connection to Washington, D.C., and yet still no explosive revelations in the scandal surrounding the agency's targeting of Tea Party groups.

That, it seems, was precisely the point of Rep. Elijah Cummings' decision to release 205 pages of redacted interview transcripts Tuesday (here and here).

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12:15pm

Tue June 18, 2013
It's All Politics

6 Surprising Things About The IRS Scandal

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 1:24 pm

Lois Lerner, head of the IRS unit that decides whether to grant tax-exempt status to groups, leaves a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in May.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Hundreds of pages of transcribed interviews reveal that IRS employees in Washington were involved at an early stage in the improper targeting of Tea Party groups — but at least so far the trail stops well short of the White House.

Based on interviews with two longtime IRS employees working in the Cincinnati field office, there's no smoking gun, no direct connection to the Obama administration or even any indication that those involved in the flagging of conservative groups had political motives.

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