Mara Liasson

Mara Liasson is the national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.

Each election year, Liasson provides key coverage of the candidates and issues in both presidential and congressional races. During her tenure she has covered six presidential elections — in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. Prior to her current assignment, Liasson was NPR's White House correspondent for all eight years of the Clinton administration. She has won the White House Correspondents Association's Merriman Smith Award for daily news coverage in 1994, 1995, and again in 1997. From 1989-1992 Liasson was NPR's congressional correspondent.

Liasson joined NPR in 1985 as a general assignment reporter and newscaster. From September 1988 to June 1989 she took a leave of absence from NPR to attend Columbia University in New York as a recipient of a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism.

Prior to joining NPR, Liasson was a freelance radio and television reporter in San Francisco. She was also managing editor and anchor of California Edition, a California Public Radio nightly news program, and a print journalist for The Vineyard Gazette in Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Liasson is a graduate of Brown University where she earned a bachelor's degree in American history.

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Politics
2:16 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

As CPAC Opens, GOP Stars Take Turns At The Podium

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 5:50 pm

The Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative activists, routinely attracts big names in the Republican party — and this year's no different. It starts Thursday.

Politics
2:40 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Lay Of The Land Looks Steep For Senate Democrats

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 5:57 pm

With the House of Representatives expected to remain in Republican hands, the Senate will be the focus of midterm elections in 2014. The political landscape there appears unfavorable for Democrats.

Politics
2:13 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

For Boehner And GOP, Path To Immigration Reform Is A Muddle

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 5:59 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

The immigration issue has become a political hot potato for Republicans. Last year, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill, and the House decided not to take it up. But then House Republicans changed their minds briefly until they gave up again. NPR's Mara Liasson explains where things stand now.

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Politics
3:55 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

As Deficit Anxiety Fades, Debt Rears Its Ugly Head

President Obama tours a Costco location in Lanham, Md., on Jan. 29, before speaking about raising the federal minimum wage.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 5:55 pm

Democrats and Republicans have exhausted themselves politically after failing to reach a grand bargain to reduce the debt. Now there's a new economic debate in Washington over economic growth, mobility and income inequality.

But without dealing with the debt, Republicans and Democrats might not be able to navigate even the issues they agree on.

Moving Away From The Deficit

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Politics
4:17 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Democrats Worry About Losing Senate Majority

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 5:59 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.

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Politics
4:16 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Republicans Use Latest CBO Report To Rail Against Obamacare

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 12:31 pm

The new Congressional Budget Office report gives ammunition to Republicans and puts Democrats on the defensive. It said the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of full-time workers by more than 2 million by the year 2024. But as usual, the truth is more complicated than the headlines and press releases suggest.

Politics
4:09 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Obama Proposes Ambitious Agenda In Address To Nation

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 10:49 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech with enthusiasm last night. Facing a Congress that has often frustrated him, as well as sagging poll numbers, the president offered a list of proposals Congress could pass, and a series of plans he could enact alone if they don't.

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Politics
2:52 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Hoping For Hope: Obama Seeks A Return To Optimism In Address

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 4:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, for more on the president's speech, we're joined by NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hello, Audie.

CORNISH: So listening to Jay Carney just now, what do you think is the president's overriding goal tonight?

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Politics
3:01 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

The President Hopes For State Of The Union To Be A Big Reset Button

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 5:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. President Obama prepares to hit the proverbial reset button on his second term tomorrow night. The president will lay out his agenda in the State of the Union address. After a rough and tumble 2013 sparing with Congress over the budget and Obamacare, the president is expected to make some adjustments.

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Politics
3:57 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Boehner Picks Cathy McMorris Rodgers For GOP Rebuttal

Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., walks to a Sept. 2013 classified, members-only briefing on Syria in Washington.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 8:16 am

Tuesday night is the State of the Union Address — the biggest opportunity President Obama gets all year to speak to the American people about his priorities. There's also another speech that night — the GOP response. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner announced Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington State would deliver the official rebuttal.

Politics
4:20 am
Fri January 17, 2014

NSA Oversight: Obama Wants Safeguards Against Potential Abuse

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 11:39 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And even before Edward Snowden and his leaks made NSA surveillance the subject of dinner table conversations all over American, President Obama said he wanted a debate about the right balance between security and civil liberties. The Snowden revelations made sure that Mr. Obama got one. NPR's Mara Liasson reports on how the political calculus is working at the White House.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: The president's new senior advisor, John Podesta, describes what Mr. Obama wants Americans to understand.

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Politics
2:45 am
Thu January 9, 2014

50 Years Later, How The Politics Of Poverty Evolved

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 8:21 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.

This week, and in the coming year, we're marking the anniversary of a famous declaration. It's been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson called for an unconditional war on poverty in his first State of the Union Address after the assassination of President Kennedy.

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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
5:23 am
Sat December 14, 2013

White House Hires A Crisis Manager, Easing Democratic Worries

John Podesta was Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff from 1998 to 2001, helping the president survive impeachment.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

It's not big enough to be called a shakeup, but the new hire announced this week at the White House is important: John Podesta will come on board in January as a counselor to the president.

Podesta is a Democratic wise man, the founder of the Center for American Progress, a policy and personnel incubator for Democratic administrations, and he just started a new think tank on income inequality — the problem President Obama says will animate his second term.

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Politics
6:05 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Social Security Fight Exposes Democratic Divide On Populism

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, is leading a push to increase Social Security benefits. But her whole party is not in agreement on the issue.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 11:51 am

American politics is having a populist moment, with voters angry and frustrated with all big institutions in American life.

The backlash against big government found its expression on the right with the Tea Party. The tensions between that movement and the Republican establishment have been on full display.

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Politics
3:01 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

White House Revs Up Delayed Push For Health Coverage

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:39 pm

With HealthCare.gov able to handle an increasing number of users, the Obama administration finally went on the offensive to urge Americans to sign up for new health insurance. The administration had planned a massive advertising and social media campaign to support the Affordable Care Act back in October, but the push was delayed for two months after the health insurance exchange website failed in its debut. The effort comes as the deadline for people to sign up for coverage starting next year looms.

Politics
3:15 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Medicaid Drives Expansion Of Health Care Coverage

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 4:45 am

After years of wide spread fretting about the size of the federal debt and angst about new federal regulations for health care, one federal program is enjoying widespread popularity: Medicaid. Morning Edition examines this political paradox.

Politics
2:32 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Angst Over Health Law Leaves Obama, Democrats In Congress Divided

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 4:05 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The troubled rollout of the ACA has also shaken relations between the White House and congressional Democrats. For more on that we're joined by NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson at the White House.

Hey there, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.

CORNISH: So this isn't just about Darrel Issa stirring up anger, right? I guess Democrats genuinely worry that this rollout has hurt them heading into 2014, as Don just mentioned. So where do things stand?

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Politics
3:37 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Record Low Poll Numbers Spell Uncertain Future For Both Parties

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 3:54 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Americans are utterly fed up with Washington. That's the takeaway from the latest round of public opinion polls. Approval ratings for just about every leader and political institution from the president to Congress are now at record lows. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports on why and what the consequences might be.

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It's All Politics
1:25 am
Mon November 18, 2013

States Aim To Cure Hyperpartisanship With Primary Changes

To fight hyperpartisanship and redistricting aimed at keeping politicians safe in their district, some states are experimenting with new primary voting systems.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:42 pm

Several states are trying to do something about so-called hyperpartisanship by changing the way congressional districts are drawn and the way elections are held.

Their goal: force members of Congress to pay more attention to general election voters than to their base voters on the right or left.

John Fortier, the director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, which is working on ways to make politics less dysfunctional, says U.S. political parties have become more polarized.

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Politics
3:31 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

First Numbers From Health Exchange Expected To Be Low

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:56 pm

The administration is expected to report on the number of Americans who have signed up for health insurance on the federal exchange this week.

It's All Politics
8:45 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Top Pollster Sees Evidence Of Political 'Shock Wave'

Demonstrators march toward the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to demand that Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs.
Fang Zhe Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 10:41 am

Here's an email that caught my eye Thursday. It's from Republican Bill McInturff, one of the best pollsters around and not someone known to hyperbolize. He was discussing the results of this month's NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, which he conducts with Democrat Peter Hart.

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Politics
6:45 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Lawmakers To Grill Sebelius On Affordable Care Act

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 3:24 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. More hearings come today on the messy rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will face questions from the House, Energy and Commerce Committee. Now, yesterday, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid testified before a different committee. Marilyn Tavenner offered consumers an apology for the problems at the health care.gov website.

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Politics
2:23 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Hearing On HealthCare.gov Keeps Obamacare Politics Alive

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 4:25 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Today's hearing may not have cleared up many questions about exactly what's wrong with the health care website, but it does represent a new chapter in the political fight over the Affordable Care Act.

Joining us now is NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson. And, Mara, just after Republicans failed in their efforts to defund or delay the health care law through budget fights, the program's right back in the spotlight. Where does the political debate stand?

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Politics
3:03 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Obama To Address Health Care Website Problems

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 1:37 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's look at the politics of the Obamacare rollout with NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson. She's on the line.

Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK. So the standoff is over for the moment. The government is reopened. The battle over the debt ceiling is behind us. And now the focus is on this actual law.

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NPR Story
6:33 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

What's Behind The Partisan Thaw In Washington?

On Thursday, President Obama met with Senate Democrats. Then he met with House Republicans. And White House staff members continued talks with their counterparts from the House GOP leadership. All that talking just a day after there was radio silence between the two parties. One strong possibility for the change in attitudes is a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that shows that the majority of Americans blame Republicans for the ongoing government shutdown and just 20 percent of people approve of the Republican party.

It's All Politics
2:35 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

How Political Miscalculations Led To The Shutdown Standoff

The Capitol is seen under an overcast sky at dawn on Monday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 6:33 pm

The standoff over the debt ceiling and the government shutdown showed signs of softening Thursday.

House Speaker John Boehner said he would bring a temporary hike in the debt ceiling to the House floor in exchange for negotiations on government spending and taxes. Democrats say if the House votes to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government, they will negotiate.

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Politics
3:17 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Day 3 Of Shutdown: Both Sides Remain Dug In

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 10:53 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The nation has grown accustomed to political crisis manufactured in Washington.

INSKEEP: Americans and their leaders are less accustomed to the situation now. The drama leading up to the deadline for a government shutdown was familiar.

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Politics
5:56 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Boehner, Obama Meet But Make No Progress On Deal To End Shutdown

Day two of the government shutdown is nearing its finish, with no end in sight. And that's in spite of talks at the White House late today. President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner for over an hour Wednesday evening. The meeting failed to produce a deal that would end the federal government shutdown.

Politics
2:31 am
Tue October 1, 2013

After Years Of Political Talk, The Obamacare Fight Gets Real

A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov insurance exchange site on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 9:43 am

In the three years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, it has survived more than 50 votes in Congress to defund or repeal it, a Supreme Court challenge, a presidential election and, as of Tuesday morning, a government shutdown. Much of the spending for the law is mandatory and won't be cut off.

But now, it must survive its own implementation.

Tuesday is the day that Obamacare goes operational. Americans can begin signing up for health insurance on online marketplaces known as exchanges.

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