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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4:19am

Thu January 5, 2012
Politics

Recess Appointment Puts Obama At Odds With GOP

President Obama used a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Wednesday. Unlike similar appointments, the Senate hadn't technically recessed.

6:23am

Sat December 31, 2011
Politics

This Year In Congress: Much Drama, Little To Show

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 10:05 am

House Speaker John Boehner, surrounded by Republican House members, speaks during a news conference in Washington in December. The House initially rejected a plan to extend a tax cut for two months to buy time for talks on a full-year renewal. It later compromised — a rare event in 2011.
Susan Walsh AP

Congress got plenty of attention this year, but it was for all the wrong reasons.

There were at least three countdowns to shutdown, there was the debt-limit fight, plus the will-they-or-won't-they drama earlier in December over the payroll tax holiday. Looking at how few bills were actually signed into law this year, one might conclude this session was mostly sizzle and not much steak.

"I mean, I knew it was going to be bad this year, but I didn't realize like how bad it was," says Tobin Grant, an associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.

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3:26pm

Fri December 30, 2011
The Road Back To Work

When The Road Back To Work Detours

Randy Howland works in his small office in March, shortly after he began a work-from-home job with a call center earning $10 an hour.
Tamara Keith NPR

Part of an ongoing series

For the long-term unemployed, getting a job isn't always the end of the story.

Randy Howland spent most of this past year working at a $10-an-hour customer service job. He used to make six figures. With this job, he was settling, just so he could have the satisfaction of working. It was essentially a call-center job.

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8:00am

Sat December 24, 2011
NPR Story

GOP Walks Away From Payroll Tax Debacle Bruised

Originally published on Sat December 24, 2011 8:25 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Obama is in Hawaii with his family today. Yesterday, just before leaving Washington, D.C., he signed a bill to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits for two months. It was a political victory for the president and for Democrats who had made extending the tax break a priority.

For Republicans in the House of Representatives though, it may have marked a political defeat. NPR's congressional correspondent reporter, Tamara Keith, has more.

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5:01am

Wed December 21, 2011
It's All Politics

In A Year Of Partisan Brawls, Congress Goes One More Round

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 10:35 am

President Obama speaks in the White House's Brady Briefing Room on Tuesday. Behind the president, a ticking clock counts down the time until taxes will go up if Congress can't reach an extension deal on payroll tax cuts.
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

In a year of deadlines and political fights, Congress is closing with one last partisan brawl. At stake are billions of dollars in tax breaks and unemployment benefits for millions of Americans set to expire Jan. 1.

Just in case you've been out buying presents, working or not watching C-SPAN with bated breath, what happened Tuesday was that the House — specifically Republicans in the House — rejected a bill that had broad bipartisan support in the Senate.

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4:43pm

Wed December 14, 2011
It's All Politics

Just How Many Jobs Would The Keystone Pipeline Create?

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 7:12 pm

Demonstrators march with a replica of a pipeline during a protest to demand a stop to the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline outside the White House last November.
Evan Vucci AP

One of the major sticking points between the House and the Senate as they face off over end-of-year legislation is the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The bill the House passed Tuesday contains a provision forcing President Obama to decide on the pipeline within 60 days.

Republicans say this project should move ahead quickly because it will create thousands of jobs. But just how many jobs would be created is a matter of contention.

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2:37pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Newt Gingrich

Analysis: Gingrich's Tax Plan Would Benefit The Rich

Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, seen here during Saturday's ABC debate, is currently leading in GOP polls. His tax plan would introduce a 15 percent flat income tax.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

According to many polls, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now leading the Republican pack. His plan to rewrite the nation's tax policy hasn't gotten as much attention as some of his other proposals, but, according to a new analysis, it would require sweeping changes to the government.

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12:01am

Tue December 13, 2011
It's All Politics

Congress At Impasse Over Must-Pass Measures

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 12:29 pm

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to reporters at the Capitol on Monday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Congress is supposed to head home for the holidays at the end of this week, but there's a whole lot of work to do before then. And for now at least, the parties remain divided over a number of other must-pass measures.

This is the part of the tango of Congress where the Republican House offers a plan.

"The House is going to do its job, and it's time for the Senate then to do its job," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, at a press conference Monday.

Then, as if on cue, the Democratic Senate balked.

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5:00am

Fri December 9, 2011
It's All Politics

GOP Objects To 'Millionaires Surtax'; Millionaires We Found? Not So Much

For the second week in a row, the Senate on Thursday voted down proposals to extend the payroll tax holiday through next year. In the case of the Democrats' proposal, Republicans objected to the "millionaires surtax" that would be used to pay for it.

Ever since the idea of the surtax was introduced weeks ago, Republicans in Congress have railed against it, arguing that it is a direct hit on small-business owners and other job creators.

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4:59pm

Mon December 5, 2011
It's All Politics

Can Congress Really Compromise On Extending The Payroll Tax Cut?

Congress returned to Washington Monday with a pile of unfinished business, and no clarity on a path to getting it done. At the top of the congressional to-do list this week is extending a payroll tax holiday that meant about $1,000 in extra take-home pay for the typical family this year. It is set to expire at the end of the month.

Congressional leaders from both parties say the payroll tax cut is a must-pass measure. It's just not entirely clear how it's going to happen.

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8:00am

Sun December 4, 2011
Presidential Race

'Life Can Be A Challenge': Cain Suspends Run

Originally published on Sun December 4, 2011 10:13 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Herman Cain delivered his views to at Atlanta crowd of disappointed supporters.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

HERMAN CAIN: With a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD REACTION)

CORNISH: It was the last stop on the always unconventional journey for the former pizza chain CEO.

NPR's Tamara Keith has this look back at the Cain Train.

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6:11pm

Fri December 2, 2011
U.S.

GOP Leaders, Lawmakers Differ On Payroll Tax Cut

Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 3:21 pm

House Speaker John Boehner wants his Republican colleagues to agree to a payroll tax cut extension.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Two different bills calling for an extension of a payroll tax holiday failed to pass the Senate late Thursday, but work on a compromise is continuing on Capitol Hill.

President Obama and Democratic lawmakers put forth concerted efforts to extend the measure, which is set to expire next month. Economists say failure to renew the tax cut, which allows the average American family to keep $900 a year of earnings, would hurt job growth.

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12:01am

Tue November 29, 2011
Politics

Before Holidays, Congress Still Has Plenty To Do

As soon as this week, the Senate could vote on a bill to extend and expand the payroll tax holiday that gave millions of Americans a bit more money in their paychecks this year.
Brendan Hoffman Getty Images

The congressional to-do list for the month of December is long.

The list includes things like agreeing on a way to keep the federal government funded past the middle of the month, making some routine and annual tax fixes, and deciding whether or not to continue the payroll tax holiday and extended benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Dawn Deane, a 49-year-old human resources professional from Philadelphia is particularly interested in that last item.

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12:01am

Mon November 21, 2011
Governing

For Debt Committee, No Final Hour Deal Apparent

Monday is the last day the congressional supercommittee can reach a deficit reduction deal and still make its Wednesday deadline. The legislation has to be publicly available for 48 hours before a vote and the clock is ticking, but instead of announcing an agreement, it is widely expected the committee will admit it has failed.

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3:00pm

Thu November 17, 2011
Politics

Congressional Stock Trades Get Scrutiny

Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 7:52 pm

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus faces questions about his stock purchases.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The STOCK Act, a bill that would ban members of Congress from trading stock based on nonpublic information they get because they're lawmakers, has 61 co-sponsors and counting. And after years of languishing with only one hearing, the measure is getting one in the House Financial Services Committee.

What's remarkable about this is that the STOCK Act had just nine co-sponsors last week. What changed? The CBS news magazine 60 Minutes did a story about congressional insider trading.

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4:34pm

Wed November 16, 2011
The Road Back To Work

Squabbles In Washington Frustrate Job Seekers

Ray Meyer, 55, had a 30-year career in banking before losing his job. He's been rolling from one temp assignment to the next since February.
Tamara Keith NPR

Part of an ongoing series

Being unemployed for more than two years changed the way Ray Meyer looks at politics. He has always leaned Republican and used to have little sympathy for those who were receiving unemployment benefits.

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12:01am

Tue November 15, 2011
Politics

Austrian School Economist Hayek Finds New Fans

Professor Friedrich von Hayek from Austria receives his Nobel Prize in Economy from Swedish King Carl Gustaf, December 1974.
AP

Second in a three-part series

These days it can feel like the country is unsteady — politically, economically. In a search for the way forward, scholars and politicians often turn to their fundamental beliefs. NPR is taking a look at some of the most influential philosophers whose ideas molded the present and could shape the future. You might not know all their names, but you're certainly familiar with their ideas. They are woven into the fabric of our society.

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3:30pm

Wed November 9, 2011
Herman Cain

Cain Donors Stand By Their Man For Now

Originally published on Wed November 9, 2011 8:31 pm

Herman Cain speaks at a press conference Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz., to rebut charges of sexual harassment.
Eric Thayer Getty Images

When talking to people who have given to a candidate's campaign, you'd expect to find true believers.

"I liked what I heard, and he seemed to be the kind of person that I would like to see be president of the United States," says Carl Ploeger, who has donated twice to embattled GOP hopeful Herman Cain.

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4:00am

Tue November 8, 2011
NPR Story

4th Woman Accuses Cain Of Sexual Harassment

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 7:25 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.

When a Chicago woman came out yesterday to publicly accuse Herman Cain of an unwanted sexual advance, it marked a shift in this story. Up to that point, the three previous accusations had been anonymous. The Republican presidential candidate has firmly denied all the accusations of harassment, including yesterday's, which the woman claimed had occurred in 1997, when Cain was head of the National Restaurant Association.

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8:00am

Sat November 5, 2011
Election 2012

A Week Of Harassment For Herman Cain

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Quite a week for Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. He came to Washington, D.C. for a series of public events and meetings with members of Congress, but decade-old sexual harassment allegations dogged him all week long, and then late yesterday the story took another turn when the lawyer for one of the accusers made a public statement. NPR's Tamara Keith has the latest.

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5:57pm

Fri October 28, 2011
Politics

Groups That Plan To Lobby The Supercommittee

An NPR review found that more than 600 different groups and corporations say they intend to lobby around the work of the deficit reduction committee.

Alykat Flickr

In all, 619 different groups and corporations said they intend to lobby around the work of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known around Capitol Hill as the supercommittee. All of them mentioned the supercommittee or the legislation that created it in their mandatory third-quarter lobbying disclosure forms. Here is an alphabetical list of the organizations:

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10:38am

Fri October 28, 2011
Economy

Hundreds Try To Influence The Supercommittee

Originally published on Fri October 28, 2011 5:56 pm

The line for seating in the hearing room of the supercommittee's meeting on Wednesday. An NPR review found that 619 separate interest groups have reported lobbying the group.

Tinna Knuutila Sunlight Foundation

4:06pm

Fri October 21, 2011
It's All Politics

Will Cain's New 9-0-9 Tax Plan Really Help The Poor?

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Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks on Friday while unveiling his "Opportunity Zone" economic plan in front of the Michigan Central Station, an abandoned train depot in Detroit.

Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan has taken a lot of heat recently. One of the biggest criticisms: several independent analysts have found that under the plan, poor and middle class families would pay higher taxes while the richest of the rich would see a substantial tax cut. Today in Detroit, Cain unveiled his response.

"If you're at or below the poverty level, your plan isn't 9-9-9," said Cain with the abandoned Michigan Central Station in the background. "It's 9-0-9."

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5:40pm

Mon October 17, 2011
Herman Cain

Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan Gets A Closer Look

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Herman Cain has seen his popularity spike over the past couple of weeks. It was confirmed Monday, with a new CNN poll, showing him essentially tied with Mitt Romney at the front of the pack. Cain credits his success to three numbers: 9-9-9.

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5:09pm

Wed October 12, 2011
Politics

Will Free Trade Agreements Really Create Jobs?

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 9:27 pm

Caterpillar products produced in Illinois, like the ones shown above, will be able to be exported to South Korea, Colombia and Panama duty free if Congress passes trade agreements with those countries on Wednesday. Obama says the agreements will provide a major boost to U.S. exports and support tens of thousands of jobs.

Seth Perlman AP

Congress approved with bipartisan support Wednesday much-delayed free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The Obama administration and supporters in Congress have labeled these agreements jobs bills, though there are questions about how many jobs will really be created.

When Bill Lane, the Washington director for the heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, looks at the three trade deals, he sees opportunity.

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12:01am

Tue October 4, 2011
Politics

Running The Government On Temporary Extensions

Originally published on Sat December 15, 2012 1:54 pm

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a temporary measure — passed by the Senate last week — to keep the government funded through mid-November.

"Hopefully, we can certainly avoid any shutdown talk this time," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. "Get it done and continue along our mission to try and change the way spending occurs in this town."

These temporary funding extensions, lasting a few days or a few weeks, are pretty standard in Washington. Called "continuing resolutions," they go all the way back to 1876.

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5:57am

Sat September 24, 2011
Economy

Clean Car Loan Program Adds Fuel To Shutdown Fears

The once-rare possibility of a federal government shutdown has reared its head again, this time over House Republicans' desire to offset spending for disaster relief with money for other unrelated projects.

A clean-car loan program has become a key battleground. The House spending bill would take $1.5 billion from the program for disaster relief. Democrats say that would be a huge mistake.

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4:00am

Fri September 23, 2011
NPR Story

Data Show Housing Market Starting To Brighten

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP: On a Friday morning, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

One piece of positive economic news has emerged in an otherwise anxious week. The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes rose almost 19 percent over August of last year. It's more than what was expected, although it stops short of a real turn around, as NPR's Tovia Smith reports.

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4:49pm

Wed September 21, 2011
Economy

Political Heat Is Nothing New For The Fed

Originally published on Wed September 21, 2011 8:20 pm

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in July 2010. Bernanke has been heavily criticized by Republican presidential candidates in recent months.
Alex Wong Getty Images

7:38pm

Thu September 15, 2011
It's All Politics

The Senator Who Almost Shut Down The FAA

A partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration was averted right around 6:30 p.m., EST. That's when the U.S. Senate voted 92-6 in favor of a bill to temporarily extend funding for both the FAA and highway projects.

Sounds like an easy vote, right? Think again.

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