Politics

Politics
2:16 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Congress Lets Dozens Of Tax Breaks Expire

If you use up all your rum on New Year's Eve and buy a replacement bottle in 2014, your purchase is going to be a little less rewarding for Puerto Rico.

A rum tax rebate program that sent nearly $200 million to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in 2013 will expire at midnight on Dec. 31. It's just one among 55 tax breaks set to expire at the end of the year.

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The Two-Way
12:37 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Sebelius Touts 2 Million Obamacare Enrollees

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius answers questions about HealthCare.gov in Dallas earlier this month.
Larry W. Smith EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 1:33 pm

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has spent months fending off critics of the Affordable Care Act rollout, is touting the more than 2 million people who have signed up for coverage despite the troubled HealthCare.gov website.

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It's All Politics
10:30 am
Tue December 31, 2013

2013: The Year In Political Screw-Ups

The partial federal government shutdown was a political misstep that will be remembered for years to come.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 12:34 pm

If anything defined 2013, it was the political misstep. There were so many gaffes, flaps, scandals and ill-advised moves that voters were often left scratching their heads at the political class's uncanny knack for diminishing its profession.

Here are eight of the more memorable screw-ups:

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Politics
10:27 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Cruz Green Eggs And Ham: Political Hit Or Miss?

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 10:32 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin. This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, parenting can sometimes seem like the best of times and the worst of times. We'll check in with our diverse roundtable of parents to talk about some of our biggest parenting hits and misses of the year. And we'll hear from you. But first, we're going to continue our special annual Tell Me Awards for this year's best and worst performances in politics, depending on your point of view.

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Politics
10:23 am
Tue December 31, 2013

'Tell Me Awards' Spotlight Year's Political Highs And Lows

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 10:32 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Two-Way
3:25 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

On Evolution, A Widening Political Gap, Pew Says

A drawing of the scientific theory of evolution, which states that living things evolve over time.
Martin Wimmer iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 5:45 pm

The divide between Republicans and Democrats on their views of the scientific theory of evolution is widening, according to a new poll released by Pew's Religion & Public Life Project.

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Shots - Health News
2:27 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

New York City's Bloomberg Leaves Mixed Results On Health

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg holds a 64-ounce cup, as Lucky's Cafe owner Greg Anagnostopoulos stands behind him during a news conference at the cafe in New York.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 9:40 am

On the November day in 2001 when Michael Bloomberg was elected mayor, two things were prominent in New York City's air: fumes from the World Trade Center's smoldering remains, and tobacco smoke in the city's bars, restaurants and other public spaces.

Now they're both gone.

Bloomberg helped the city rebuild after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. And he led the charge against smoking.

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The Two-Way
11:58 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Official In Charge Of Creating HealthCare.gov Steps Down

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 2:28 pm

Michelle Snyder, the official who oversaw the creation of the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov website, is retiring.

In a statement on Monday, Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, announced Snyder's departure from the agency, saying she had originally planned to retire at the end of 2012 but had stayed on at Tavenner's request to help "with the challenges facing CMS in 2013."

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The Two-Way
9:19 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Billionaire Philanthropist, GOP Donor Harold Simmons Dies

Harold Simmons stands by the Dallas courthouse entrance in October 1997. Simmons, the Texas billionaire, philanthropist and GOP donor, died Saturday in Dallas. He was 82.
Flor Cordero Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 12:49 pm

Harold Simmons, the Texas billionaire, philanthropist and GOP donor, has died. He was 82.

The Dallas Morning News says Simmons died late Saturday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. His wife, Annette, told the newspaper that Simmons was "very sick for the last two weeks" and was in Baylor's intensive care unit. The family spent Christmas at the hospital, she said.

Here's more from the Morning News:

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It's All Politics
8:31 am
Mon December 30, 2013

GOP Crafts New Rules To Shorten 2016 Primary Season

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on stage with their wives Ann Romney and Janna Ryan at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 30.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 10:28 am

A year after losing the popular vote for the fifth time in the past six presidential elections, the Republican Party has crafted a series of rules tweaks designed to regain control of — and dramatically shorten — its presidential nominating process.

The subcommittee charged with looking for fixes has approved five proposed changes for review by the Republican National Committee's rules committee at its January meeting. The full RNC would then need to pass the changes by a three-quarters supermajority.

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It's All Politics
5:29 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Assessing Bloomberg's Legacy Is A Complex Task

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the opening of the New York Genome Center on Sept. 19 in New York City.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 9:16 am

At the end of this month, Michael Bloomberg ends his three terms as mayor of New York City. Assessing Bloomberg's legacy, a man who went from Republican to Independent, is not a simple thing to do. His 12 years in office were groundbreaking, locally and even globally.

But at the same time, many New Yorkers found him arrogant and insensitive to the poor. It's a vein that was tapped successfully by Democratic Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who described New York as a city of haves and have nots. But the changes implemented by Bloomberg will impact generations of New Yorkers to come.

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Politics
2:52 am
Mon December 30, 2013

If The NAFTA Vote Were Held Today, How Would It Fare?

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 5:42 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. It's been 20 years since President Bill Clinton signed into law a trade pact that wiped out many of the commercial barriers between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The North American Free Trade Agreement was controversial. Although Congress in the end approved NAFTA, it divided lawmakers, and on both sides of the aisle.

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Politics
3:42 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

A Look Back At A Rather Rotten Year In U.S. Politics

2013 was a terrible year for politics and politicians of all stripes. Matt Miller of The Washington Post and the public radio program Left, Right, & Center joins NPR's Arun Rath for a wrap-up.

Politics
10:03 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Abortion Rights Groups Say It's Time To Stop Playing Defense

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered for 11 hours against sweeping restrictions on abortion back in June, becoming a hero for abortion rights activists.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 11:08 am

Abortion rights activists are working on a counterattack to the 200 bills that have passed in states across the U.S. since 2010.

In the past three years, Republican-led legislatures have backed bills to regulate abortions and the doctors and clinics that perform them.

Bills to ban abortions at 20 weeks are among the laws that cropped up three years ago and have now passed in about a dozen states. This year, North Dakota pushed to end abortions at around six weeks of pregnancy.

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Politics
6:59 am
Sun December 29, 2013

John Kerry's Ambitious First Year

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 9:12 am

Transcript

JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

Secretary of State John Kerry helped broker the deal to remove chemical weapons from Syria. He's been in his State Department post since February, and in that time has had a full portfolio - Syria, Iran, another attempt at Mideast peace talks. To better gauge how John Kerry's performed during his first year on the job, we called David Ignatius. He is a columnist for the Washington Post. Thanks so much for joining us.

DAVID IGNATIUS: Oh, happy to be with you.

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Politics
6:28 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Family Leave Laws Enacted In 10 Cities And States In 2013

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 9:12 am

Transcript

JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

This month, NPR's been looking at some of the numbers that bring 2013 into focus. Today, the number 10. That's how many cities and states have passed laws guaranteeing access to some kind of family leave this year, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. That group's long championed such leave policies. And joining us now to talk about such trends is Vicki Shabo, the partnership's director of work and family programs. Welcome.

VICKI SHABO: Thank you, Jennifer. It's so great to be here.

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Politics
7:27 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Up Next For Joe Biden, A Busy Year — And A Choice

Joe Biden has a light-hearted moment in the Old Senate Chambers in January. The vice president has not ruled out running for president in 2016.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 2:24 pm

This was a busy year for Vice President Joe Biden: He was President Obama's point man on gun control; he traveled widely, pushing for infrastructure spending; and he recently returned form a trip to Asia, where he met with the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea.

In 2014, Biden may face an even busier schedule, as he stumps for Democratic congressional candidates in advance of November's midterm elections and tries to decide whether to make another run for president himself.

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Politics
6:55 am
Sat December 28, 2013

The Ups And Downs Of The GOP Year

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:35 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Now, we'll take a look down the Mall and across the aisle at the Republican Party, which had a pretty tumultuous 2013. NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving is here to give us the GOP's greatest hits of the past year. Ron, Happy New Year, almost.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Almost Happy New Year to you, too, Linda.

WERTHEIMER: Let's start with some good news for the GOP. There is a new poll which was out yesterday. If you could vote today, would you vote for Republicans or Democrats and Republicans got a five-point lead.

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Politics
6:54 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Other Presidents Had Tough Second Terms, Too

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:35 am

President Obama stopped short of admitting he's had a pretty tough year in his final press conference of 2013. Historian Robert Dallek joins NPR's Linda Wertheimer for a look back at the year, and to put Obama's trying times in context with other presidents who had difficult second terms.

Politics
6:51 am
Sat December 28, 2013

With Congress Gone, D.C. Takes On Effortless Beauty

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:35 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

'Twas the week after Christmas and I in my cap and heavy sweater and down vest ventured out to find our beautiful capital city glittering in the winter sunshine, the cold air so clear that the crescent moon looks like a chalk drawing on the deep blue sky. The Capitol Dome and the spike of the Washington Monument all shine, showing their best postcard poses.

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The Two-Way
6:26 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Federal Jobless Benefits Set To End For More Than 1 Million

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) talks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, last Thursday. Reid has promised a vote no later than Jan. 7 on a measure to extend jobless benefits for three months.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Federal jobless benefits going to 1.3 million Americans will officially expire on Saturday after Congress failed to extend them before leaving for the holiday.

NPR's Tamara Keith says it "means anyone who has been out of work and getting benefits for more than 6 months will see their weekly checks stop abruptly."

"Advocates point out that without congressional action another 73,000 people will lose benefits each week," she says.

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It's All Politics
1:06 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

5 Achievements Of The 113th Congress (So Far)

Congress managed to get a few things accomplished in 2013, with an emphasis on "few."
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

The 113th Congress, which just ended its first year, has come to be defined more by what it hasn't done than what it has. With two warring and ideologically polarized parties controlling either end of Capitol Hill, Congress has more or less become a quagmire for policy.

Still, one of the least productive Congresses of the modern era was able to accomplish a few things in 2013. Here are five of them:

1. Going Nuclear

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The Two-Way
11:57 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Stories Merge As 'Duck Dynasty' Fans Plan 'Chick-Phil-A' Day

One of Chick-Phil-A-Day's promotional images.
Facebook.com/chickphiladay

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 3:43 pm

Update at 5:40 p.m. ET. A&E Lifts Phil Robertson's Suspension:

A&E announced Friday afternoon that it was reversing its decision to suspend Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson from the show.

A statement from the cable channel says the decision was made after discussions with the Robertson family and "numerous advocacy groups."

Here's our original post ...

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It's All Politics
6:19 am
Fri December 27, 2013

How Michael Bloomberg Became The Most Influential Mayor Of The Century (So Far)

Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during an August news conference after officially opening the new Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park in Queens.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:45 am

Money mattered in Michael Bloomberg's case.

The billionaire's personal fortune (ranked 10th in the nation by Fortune) allowed him to bankroll his three runs for New York City mayor, freeing him to hire people he believed were the best and the brightest, rather than friends of donors.

His philanthropy also backed up the experiments he ran at City Hall — and allowed him to encourage other mayors to take similar tacks.

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Politics
3:29 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Looking Back On A Roller Coaster Year For The GOP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:06 am

It's been a long year since Republicans vowed to rebrand their party as friendlier to women, minorities and younger voters. Even if its longer term problems remain, the party finds itself in surprisingly good shape going into the 2014 midterms.

Politics
3:23 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Obama's Position On Free Trade Marks Subtle Evolution

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:06 am

Two decades after NAFTA created a giant North American free trade zone, the U.S. is negotiating more big trade deals that would span the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. President Obama has embraced the potential agreements as a way to improve the U.S. economy.

Shots - Health News
2:50 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Iowa Opens The Doors To Medicaid Coverage, On Its Own Terms

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 3:52 pm

At the Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines, Iowa, health insurance navigator Andrea Pearce stood in a crowded dining hall on a recent day, shouting instructions on how residents can sign up for Medicaid.

"If you do not have insurance and you want to enroll and you have an e-mail address where you know the password," she said, "come to the computer lab we will guide you through the application."

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The Two-Way
2:50 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

President Obama Signs Budget, Defense Bills

President Obama speaks to current and retired members of the U.S. military and their families as they eat a Christmas Day meal in the Anderson Hall mess hall at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Wednesday.
Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 3:58 pm

President Obama on Thursday signed the bipartisan budget bill agreed upon earlier this month, setting the stage for an easing of mandatory spending cuts over the next two years.

The Senate approved the spending measure last week, following its passage in the Republican-dominated House.

The president also signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014.

As The Associated Press reports:

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Law
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

How 2013 Became The 'Gayest Year Ever'

Utah's surprise decision to legalize same-sex marriage caps a landmark year for gay rights. The last 12 months saw a huge string of victories, from state legislatures, to Congress, to the Supreme Court.

Governing
11:51 am
Thu December 26, 2013

In 2013, Federal Workers Found New Reason To Be Unhappy

Cindy VanDerwerker, a maintenance worker at Saratoga National Historical Park, clears leaves from a walkway on Oct. 17 in Stillwater, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 1:08 pm

Elizabeth Lytle is an administrative program assistant with the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago — "a glorified name for a secretary," she says.

If Lytle isn't thrilled with her title, she's even less enamored of her job.

"The morale is just unbelievably low because we're never recognized," Lytle says. "Management doesn't seem to go to bat for us."

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