Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith is a NPR White House Correspondent. She is especially focused on matters related to the economy and the Federal budget.

Prior to moving into her current role in January 2014, she was a Congressional Correspondent covering Congress with an emphasis on the budget, taxes and the ongoing fiscal fights. During the Republican presidential primaries she covered Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, and traveled with Mitt Romney leading into the primaries in Colorado and Ohio, among other states. She began covering congress in August 2011.

Keith joined NPR in 2009 as a Business Reporter. In that role, she reported on topics spanning the business world from covering the debt downgrade and debt ceiling crisis to the latest in policy debates, legal issues and technology trends. In early 2010, she was on the ground in Haiti covering the aftermath of the country's disastrous earthquake and later she covered the oil spill in the Gulf. In 2011, Keith conceived and reported the 2011 NPR series The Road Back To Work, a year-long series featuring the audio diaries of six people in St. Louis who began the year unemployed and searching for work.

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. While in college, she launched her career at NPR Member Station KQED's California Report, covering topics including agriculture and the environment. In 2004, Keith began working at NPR Member Station WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, where she reported on politics and the 2004 presidential campaign.

Keith went back to California to open the state capital bureau for NPR Member Station KPCC/Southern California Public Radio. In 2006, Keith returned to KQED, serving as the Sacramento-region reporter for two years.

In 2001, Keith began working on B-Side Radio, an hour-long public radio show and podcast that she co-founded, produced, hosted, edited, and distributed for nine years.

Over the course of her career Keith has been the recipient of numerous accolades, including an award for best news writing from the APTRA California/Nevada and a first place trophy from the Society of Environmental Journalists for "Outstanding Story Radio." Keith was a 2010-2011 National Press Foundation Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow.

Keith earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree at the UCB Graduate School of Journalism. Tamara is also a member of the Bad News Babes, a media softball team that once a year competes against female members of Congress in the Congressional Women's Softball game.

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NPR Story
5:28 am
Wed July 24, 2013

House To Vote On Defunding NSA Phone Surveillance

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 11:59 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The U.S. House of Representatives is taking up the issue of domestic spying. Lawmakers are expected to vote today on an amendment that would reign in the National Security Agency program that collects the phone records of millions of Americans. This would be the first vote on the matter since the scope of the NSA program was made public in a series of leaks. As NPR's Tamara Keith reports, at issue is an amendment to the defense appropriations bill.

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Politics
2:59 am
Tue July 23, 2013

How Floor Charts Became Stars Of Congress

http://senatecharts.tumblr.com/

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

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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The Two-Way
7:02 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

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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News
2:30 am
Sun July 14, 2013

A Bipartisan Duo Takes Tax Pitch On The Road

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

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

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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Politics
7:16 am
Sat July 13, 2013

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

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

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

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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It's All Politics
9:54 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Top Democrat Says Documents Show IRS Also Targeted Liberals

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

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

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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NPR Story
4:53 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

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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It's All Politics
6:18 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Inspector General Changes Tune On IRS Scandal

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

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

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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Business
4:46 am
Tue June 25, 2013

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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It's All Politics
9:34 am
Wed June 19, 2013

IRS Staffer: 'What I Did Was Not Targeting'

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

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

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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It's All Politics
12:15 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

6 Surprising Things About The IRS Scandal

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

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

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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Politics
3:18 am
Tue June 11, 2013

How The Senate Farm Bill Would Change Subsidies

Third-generation Oklahoma farmer Scott Neufeld says crop insurance is important to his family's business.
Tamara Keith NPR

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 3:40 pm

The Senate voted Monday to approve its version of the farm bill, a massive spending measure that covers everything from food stamps to crop insurance and sets the nation's farm policy for the next five years.

The centerpiece of that policy is an expanded crop insurance program, designed to protect farmers from losses, that some say amounts to a highly subsidized gift to agribusiness. That debate is set to continue as the House plans to take up its version of the bill this month.

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It's All Politics
3:07 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Conservative Advice To GOP: Don't Legislate, Focus On Scandals

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 4:25 pm

Heritage Action, the political activist offshoot of the conservative Heritage Foundation, has some advice for House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor: focus on the scandals plaguing the Obama administration and stay away from legislation that could "highlight major schisms" within the House Republican Conference.

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It's All Politics
2:51 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Cantor's Rebranding Effort Tested By House Republicans

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has been pitching a GOP rebranding effort he calls Making Life Work. The agenda is aimed at creating "conditions of health, happiness and prosperity" for American families, he says.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 11:43 am

When the House votes Wednesday on a bill called the Working Families Flexibility Act, it will be the latest test of a Republican effort at rebranding.

The architect of that effort in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has so far had a mixed record.

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It's All Politics
5:12 am
Sun April 28, 2013

House Leadership Crashes Into Outside Hurdles On Bills

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to the media during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on April 18.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Sun April 28, 2013 6:40 pm

The House was set to vote this week on a bill modifying the president's health care law. The Republican bill was supported by the leadership, but ran into trouble and was pulled from the floor before the scheduled vote.

It's an example of the kind of obstacles Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, faces in getting legislation through the House. In many recent cases, his problem hasn't been the Democrats as much as members of his own party, backed by proudly conservative outside groups.

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It's All Politics
5:19 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

How Congress Quietly Overhauled Its Insider-Trading Law

Vice President Biden and members of Congress watch as President Obama signs the STOCK Act on April 4, 2012. A year later, Congress moved to undo large portions of the law without fanfare.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 5:46 pm

The legislative process on Capitol Hill is often slow and grinding. There are committee hearings, filibuster threats and hours of floor debate. But sometimes, when Congress really wants to get something done, it can move blindingly fast.

That's what happened when Congress moved to undo large parts of a popular law known as the STOCK Act last week.

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It's All Politics
4:09 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

On Message: Who Wants To Cut Social Security?

A sign outside the White House on Tuesday protests part of President Obama's proposed federal budget.
Kevin G. Hall MCT/Landov

The president's $3.77 trillion fiscal 2014 budget plan is expansive. But the part getting the most attention is his proposal to change the way the government calculates inflation using a measure known in economics-speak as chained CPI.

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Politics
5:15 am
Thu April 11, 2013

'Chained CPI' Worked Into Obama's 2014 Budget

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 10:59 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep reporting this week from Caracas, Venezuela.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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It's All Politics
3:04 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Searching For The Sequester In The Middle Of Ohio

In Columbus, Ohio, signs of the sequester were hard to find.
Kiichiro Sato AP

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 9:59 pm

It's been a little more than a month since the start of the sequester — the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that kicked in because Congress couldn't agree on something better.

Before it hit, there were dire and at times very specific predictions of job losses, furloughs and program cuts — many of them from the Obama administration.

Of course, it's still early. Everything you hear today about the effects of the sequester could and probably will change over the coming weeks and months.

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It's All Politics
3:42 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Opposition Research Boot Camp: Learning To Dig For Political Dirt

Opposition research is becoming a given in politics, sometimes even at the local level.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon April 22, 2013 8:29 pm

Opposition research exists mostly in the political shadows. So perhaps it's fitting that this boot camp is in an generic conference room in a generic airport hotel outside of Washington, D.C.

It's run by private investigator Larry Zilliox, who specializes in opposition research. He allowed me to attend a session, but not to take pictures.

Zilliox is cagey about his clients: "As a general rule, it suits me best not to comment on who I've worked for. Everybody is better off that way."

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It's All Politics
5:43 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

NRA-Driven Gun Provisions Pass Along With Spending Bill

Customers shop for guns at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store in Tinley Park, Ill., in January. One of the gun provisions in the spending bill prevents the Justice Department from requiring gun dealers to conduct an inventory to see if guns are lost or stolen.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 6:32 pm

The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve a temporary measure to keep the government funded through the end of September. Government shutdown averted.

But it turns out the continuing resolution didn't just address spending. It contains six measures that limit how federal agencies deal with guns.

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Politics
5:10 am
Thu March 21, 2013

House, Senate Budget Plans Offer Different Future

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., holds a copy of his budget plan during a news conference last week. On Thursday, the Republican-controlled House narrowly passed the measure. The Senate is not expected to follow suit.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 1:36 pm

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's House GOP budget balances in a decade and re-shapes Medicare. That is, it would if the measure passed by the House on Thursday ever became law — which it won't.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray's Democratic budget raises almost $1 trillion in taxes by closing loopholes and adds $100 billion in new spending on infrastructure. But it won't become a reality, either.

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It's All Politics
4:58 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

How The Federal Budget Is Just Like Your Family Budget (Or Not)

Is your family budget really like the federal budget?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 7:51 pm

The House has begun debate on its budget resolution, with a vote expected later this week. And as supporters talk about this budget, there's one comparison you hear a lot.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio: "Every family in America has to balance their budget. Washington should, too."

Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.: "You know, every family in America understands the necessity of a balanced budget."

Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.: "This is how every family tries to live in good times and in bad. Your government should do the same."

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It's All Politics
4:24 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

On Message: The Battle To Define 'Balanced' Budget

A member of the House Budget Committee holds a copy of the Republican budget proposal on Tuesday in Washington.
Gary Cameron Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 6:12 pm

In the ongoing Washington budget battles, one word gets more of a workout than most: balanced.

This single word illustrates the vast distance between the parties. Democrats and Republicans are working from very different definitions of the term in discussing their budget proposals being unveiled this week.

What Democrats are saying: A balanced budget is deficit reduction through a mix of tax increases and spending cuts. As in: We want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit.

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Politics
4:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Houses Passes Resolution To Keep Government Funded Through September

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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It's All Politics
3:45 am
Wed March 6, 2013

The Boehner Rule? Speaker Bucks House GOP For Some Legislation

House Speaker John Boehner answers reporters' questions after the weekly House Republican caucus meeting with (from left) Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. Steve Daines on Tuesday.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 11:18 am

House Speaker John Boehner held a news conference the day after the November election.

"The American people have spoken," he said. "They've re-elected President Obama. And they've again re-elected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives."

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It's All Politics
6:05 am
Sat March 2, 2013

GOP On The Sequester: Many Messages But Mostly The Same Point

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to the media after a meeting with President Obama on Friday.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 11:04 am

In the days leading up to the sequester taking effect Friday, Democrats on Capitol Hill had a very unified message.

"We're seeking to provide the American people with a balanced approach. Again, that's what the American people want," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said at a press conference.

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Politics
6:06 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Sequester Countdown Clock Keeps Ticking

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 12:04 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

The sequester countdown calendar now has the number one on it. Tomorrow is the big day. Over time, the automatic across the board spending cuts could slow economic growth and lead to the furlough of hundreds of thousands of government employees. And we're going hear more about that in a moment.

NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith begins our coverage with the efforts to stop that from happening.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Spoiler alert.

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It's All Politics
3:13 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

On Message: What Boehner's Saying (And What He's Not) About Sequester

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, discusses the sequester Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 2:33 pm

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It's All Politics
2:50 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

On Message: What Obama's Saying (And What He's Not) About Sequester

President Obama speaks Tuesday about the sequester in Newport News, Va.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 2:34 pm

If you're confused about who owns the sequester, what it means and what it will do, you have lots of company.

In Washington, the key players can't even agree on what's at stake, much less find a way to stop the automatic government spending cuts set to begin Friday.

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