NPR's Political Junkie Ken Rudin recaps the week in politics and reflects on some of the significant political moments of the year. He also faces off in a trivia battle with burgeoning political junkie Gabe Fleisher, a fifth grader who drafts a political newsletter everyday before school.
Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 10:03 am
As the nation's first African-American president, Barack Obama benefited from and expanded his party's enormous advantage among minority voters.
But as he prepares to start his second term, Obama hasn't managed to usher in behind him many Democrats who are minorities to top elected office. Conversely, Republicans — despite their highly limited support among non-Anglo voters — have managed to elevate more top politicians from minority backgrounds.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:49 pm
President Obama is "cutting short" a vacation that he'd already said he would cut short. "See you next week," he told reporters last week before leaving for Hawaii. The president is now due back at the White House on Thursday, which is pretty much what was expected. His family will stay in Hawaii until after the New Year.
Senators are also coming back to Washington, but many aren't likely to get to the Capitol until Thursday evening.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:11 am
The new Congress will have big problems to tackle and little love from the people who elected them. To find out what can be done to get things working again on Capitol Hill, David Greene catches up with Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.
Sofia Campos, 23, is the head of the United We Dream campaign — a national network of youth-led immigrant organizations. Campos was born in Peru, but grew up in California, entirely unaware of her undocumented status until she tried applying for college scholarships.
Credit Courtesy of Sofia Jones
Sofia Jones speaks at the 2011 University of California Student Lobby Conference in Sacramento. Jones was among many lobbying for the California Dream Act and affordable higher education.
Throughout the debate over taxes and the "fiscal cliff," there's been a lot of looking backward — to the 1990s. The economic expansion of the 1990s was the longest in recorded American history.
Democrats say the economy thrived under the leadership of President Bill Clinton, including his tax rate increase on high earners. Republicans say government didn't spend as much then and that growth didn't really take off until the GOP took control of Congress in 1995.
So what actually happened in the '90s? What made them tick?
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in Amman, Jordan, in 2008.
Credit Photo provided by Library of Congress / AP
Chuck Hagel (right) and his younger brother Tom sit atop an armored personnel carrier in Vietnam, in a photo taken in or around 1968. The Hagel brothers were squad leaders with the U.S. Army's 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong River Delta.
Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is said to be on President Obama's short list to be the next defense secretary. But even the possibility of his nomination has stirred up opposition — particularly from members of his own political party.
If Hagel can survive a political ambush in Washington, he would be the first Pentagon chief who saw combat as an enlisted soldier.
The blunt-spoken Hagel favors deeper cuts in military spending and is wary of entangling America in long overseas missions.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee in for Michel Martin. Coming up, the U. S. economy has had an interesting year. I don't need to tell you that we're still facing huge hurdles. But on the other hand, the stock market shot up this year and some sectors are thriving. We'll talk about signs of hope in just a few minutes.
Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:43 pm
In political terms, 2012 was not the greatest of years. We witnessed an ugly, personal, petty, and often childish presidential election. Living in a "battleground" or "swing" state often meant being bombarded 24/7 by an incessant barrage of negative campaign commercials. And just as we were finally emerging from the campaign, we ended the year with an unfathomable tragedy, the gunning down of 20 children at an elementary school in Connecticut.
Republican U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo of Idaho was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with driving under the influence in a Washington, D.C., suburb, authorities said. The booking photo was provided by the police department in Alexandria, Va.
Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 3:18 am
A conservative U.S. senator from Idaho who has said he doesn't drink because of his Mormon faith has been charged with drunken driving.
Sen. Michael Crapo, a three-term Republican with a reputation as a social and fiscal conservative, registered a blood alcohol content of .11 percent after police pulled his car over in this suburb south of Washington, D.C., authorities said.
The 61-year-old lawmaker, who faces a court date Jan. 4, apologized in a statement issued hours after his arrest early Sunday.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Could eggnog be the antidote to the looming fiscal cliff? President Obama expressed this very hope as he left town for Christmas in Hawaii on Friday, saying maybe eggnog and Christmas cookies could put lawmakers in a more cooperative mood in time to prevent the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect with the new year. The president said lawmakers might also benefit from a short cooling-off period outside the partisan pressure cooker here in Washington.
Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 6:50 pm
"The House has done its part to avert this entire fiscal cliff," House Speaker John Boehner said Saturday in his weekly address.
He cited the measure that passed Thursday, which would reorganize the automatic spending cuts to protect the defense budget and cut deeper elsewhere. He also pointed to legislation that would stop all tax hikes on Jan. 1.
A week that began with promising movement toward a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff ended with apparent backward progress. House Speaker John Boehner offered no evidence he had control of his unruly caucus, while President Obama avoided the topic entirely.
As we've just heard, this breakdown in negotiations within the Republican Party is troubling for Speaker Boehner. It also stifles negotiations to avert the combination of deep spending cuts and tax increases. That will come without a bipartisan agreement.
We're joined by Norm Ornstein, an experienced observer of Congress and politics. He's resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Thanks for being with us.
The nation's largest gun owners group had said little in the immediate aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. But the National Rifle Association's executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, broke that silence Friday with a call to place armed guards at all of the nation's schools.
The idea was met with immediate criticism from Democrats in Congress.
In a news conference Friday, President Obama said there were still things the parties could agree on about the automatic tax-rate increases and spending cuts at the end of the year. But he said parties would have to work together to get a plan approved in the next 10 days.
"Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done," he said, after meeting with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and speaking to Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., gets into his pickup truck after voting in Wrentham, Mass., on Nov. 6. Brown lost the election to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, but both he and his truck could be back on the campaign trail soon.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 3:55 pm
President Obama's nomination of Democrat John Kerry to be secretary of state sets off a chain of events that could put another Kennedy in the Senate, at least on an interim basis.
And it gives ousted Republican Scott Brown a fighting chance of returning to the Senate by midyear.
On Friday, Obama nominated Kerry, the senior senator from Massachusetts, to replace Hillary Clinton as the nation's chief diplomat. A 27-year veteran of the Senate and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry should win easy Senate confirmation early in the new year.
For more on yesterday's Republican meltdown, I'm joined by Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette of Ohio. He would have voted for Plan B if it had come up for a vote. He's a strong ally of Speaker Boehner, and he joins me now from Capitol Hill. Congressman LaTourette, welcome to the program.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVE LATOURETTE: Thank you very much.
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.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:53 am
The most important measure of power on Capitol Hill can be summed up with a question: "Do you have the votes?"
For House Speaker John Boehner, the answer once again appears to be "no." In a move that's hard to view as anything short of humiliating for the speaker, Boehner had to shelve his own "Plan B" fiscal-cliff-avoidance proposal Thursday evening after it became clear he couldn't get enough fellow Republicans to support it.
Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 4:10 am
At a service for the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday, President Obama said if it weren't for the example of the long-serving Hawaii Democrat, he might not have gone into public service.
Inouye "hinted to me what might be possible in my own life," Obama told the crowd, which included Vice President Joe Biden and other friends and former Senate colleagues.
In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., mayors are a key part of the debate over the country's gun laws. Host Michel Martin speaks with two leaders who frequently encounter issues of gun violence and gun ownership; Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sylvester James and former Cincinnati Mayor Kenneth Blackwell.
President Obama announced this afternoon that he will nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be his next secretary of state.
Kerry's long experience in the Senate (he was first elected in 1984) and especially in foreign affairs (he chairs the Foreign Relations Committee) mean the senator's "not going to need a lot of on-the-job training," Obama said.
We followed the short appearance at the White House by the president and Kerry and posted some highlights.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:14 am
On this morning after he couldn't get fellow Republicans to support his "Plan B" for avoiding the year end "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts, House Speaker John Boehner took some questions from reporters.
We listened in and posted updates. Hit your "refresh" button to see our latest additions:
-- Update at 10:12 a.m. ET. House Will Come Back "If We're Needed":