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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2:50pm

Fri January 4, 2013
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 3:23 pm

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

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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4:43pm

Fri December 21, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:21 pm

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

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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4:56am

Fri December 21, 2012
Politics

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

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

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

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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5:27pm

Thu December 20, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

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

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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4:42am

Fri December 14, 2012
Politics

'Fiscal Cliff' Message Repeats Itself

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 6:35 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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5:28am

Tue December 11, 2012
Economy

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

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

iStockphoto.com

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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5:36pm

Thu December 6, 2012
It's All Politics

Boehner Faces Conservative Backlash Over 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks

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

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

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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5:07pm

Thu November 29, 2012
It's All Politics

Would Raising Taxes On Investment Income Hurt The Economy?

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 9:53 pm

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

10:04am

Thu November 29, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 1:58 pm

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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5:30am

Tue November 27, 2012
It's All Politics

Fiscal Cliff Compromise: Devil Is In The Definition Of Revenue

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 12:29 pm

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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3:31am

Tue November 13, 2012
It's All Politics

Fiscal Cliff Would Only Dent The Deficit

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 7:30 pm

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

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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5:51pm

Fri November 2, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 6:34 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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6:42pm

Thu November 1, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 7:52 pm

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

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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4:20pm

Fri October 26, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 5:57 pm

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

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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4:47am

Wed October 17, 2012
Politics

How Will Sequestration Effect The Federal Budget

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 1:41 pm

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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3:24am

Thu October 11, 2012
Fiscal Cliff Notes

Fiscal Cliff Could Hit Civilian Pentagon Workers First

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 2:23 pm

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

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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3:31am

Mon October 1, 2012
Fiscal Cliff Notes

For High Earners, Expiring Tax Cuts Would Hit Hard

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 5:22 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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2:47am

Wed September 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Payroll Tax Holiday May Not Survive Year's End

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 4:46 am

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

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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12:18pm

Fri August 17, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 12:46 pm

Twitter.com

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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1:13am

Fri July 27, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 3:42 pm

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

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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5:42pm

Fri July 20, 2012
It's All Politics

New Questions About Timing Of Romney's Bain Departure

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 10:37 am

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

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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3:56am

Tue July 10, 2012
Election 2012

Bush Tax Cuts: The New Middle-Class Norm

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 2:42 pm

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

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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4:09am

Mon July 9, 2012
Politics

GOP To Make 31st Attempt To Repeal Obamacare Act

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 1:00 pm

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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5:45am

Thu June 28, 2012
Politics

Tentative Deal On Transportation Reached

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 12:34 pm

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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6:23pm

Wed June 20, 2012
Energy

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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3:51pm

Mon June 4, 2012
It's All Politics

California's Top-Two Primary System Faces First Statewide Test

Originally published on Mon June 4, 2012 5:45 pm

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

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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5:02pm

Wed May 23, 2012
Law

Ousted Secret Service Agents May Ask For Jobs Back

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 7:22 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The director of the Secret Service assured a Senate committee, today, that a prostitution scandal involving his agents never compromised security. Mark Sullivan also apologized for behavior he said was reckless. It was Sullivan's first public testimony since news broke last month of Secret Service employees picking up prostitutes before a presidential visit to Colombia. He insisted this was an isolated incident.

But NPR's Tamara Keith reports, some on the committee weren't buying it.

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4:02am

Mon May 21, 2012
It's All Politics

Sophomoric? Members Of Congress Talk Like 10th Graders, Analysis Shows

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 3:30 pm

Congress, shown gathered for President Obama's State of the Union in January, is speaking at about a grade level lower now than in 2005, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Members of Congress are often criticized for what they do — or rather, what they don't do.

But what about what they say and, more specifically, how they say it? It turns out that the sophistication of congressional speech-making is on the decline, according to the open government group the Sunlight Foundation. Since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade.

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5:33pm

Wed May 16, 2012
It's All Politics

Lugar's Last Race: Indiana Senator Doesn't Take Defeat Sitting Down

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 7:34 pm

Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., crosses the finish line of the 3-mile Capital Challenge charity race with Olympic marathoner Meb Keflezighi. It was Lugar's 31st race, and his last as a senator after he lost a primary challenge this month.
Javaun Moradi NPR

The partisan divisions on Capitol Hill are numerous — but Wednesday morning, about two-dozen members of Congress did something entirely nonpartisan. They ran in a 3-mile race for charity, along with their staffs and teams from the executive and judicial branches and the media (including NPR).

The ACLI Capital Challenge is an annual tradition that dates back to 1981, and one senator has run the race every time: Dick Lugar, R-Ind. But Wednesday's race was also his last.

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4:09am

Tue May 15, 2012
Election 2012

JPMorgan's Loss A Gain For Campaign Positioning

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 9:51 am

The U.S. and JPMorgan Chase flags wave outside its headquarters in New York on Friday.
Eduardo Munoz Reuters /Landov

The fallout from banking giant JPMorgan Chase's $2 billion — and counting — loss has made its way into the presidential campaign. The president and presumptive GOP challenger Mitt Romney have very different views about the regulation of Wall Street, in particular the Dodd-Frank financial systems overhaul law.

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