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.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday in another case that threatens the survival of Obamacare. This one doesn't challenge the constitutionality of the law itself, it merely challenges the legality of one of the most important parts of the system — subsidies so that everyone can afford health care. If the court strikes down the subsidies for people who live in states that chose not to set up their own exchanges, and who get their health coverage from the federal marketplace — healthcare.gov — it would begin to unravel the entire Obamacare project.

As the measles outbreak continues to spread, political leaders with an eye on the White House in 2016 spent much of the week jumping into, and then trying to bail themselves out of, the vaccine debate.

Some brushed the issue off as an unnecessary media circus, but it's worth taking a look at its deeper political meaning. Here are five things the vaccine politics kerfuffle of 2015 tells us about the emerging field of presidential candidates for 2016.

1. Vaccination politics are a problem for Republicans — not Democrats.

President Obama is about to get his first veto opportunity of the new Congress. A bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline project will be on his desk soon. He has promised to veto it, and that's unusual. In his first six years in office, Obama issued just two vetoes — the fewest of any president going all the way back to James Garfield, and Garfield only served 199 days in office!

Even in the era of declining television audiences, President Obama's State of the Union address is still the biggest audience he'll have all year. Historically, seventh-year State of the Union speeches have a short shelf life. Every one of the five lame-duck presidents (that is, presidents constitutionally barred from running again — Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama) has had opposition congresses, making the prospects for passing major parts of the president's agenda slim to none.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down. President Obama made the announcement in an East Room appearance minutes ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

Updated at 1:28 p.m. ET.

President Obama says he will announce the executive actions he's taking to "start fixing our broken immigration system" during a speech to the nation at 8 p.m. ET Thursday.

When social norms change, sometimes they change so fast it's hard to keep up.

Only 10 years ago, ballot initiatives opposing gay marriage were helping Republicans win elections. But two weeks ago, when the Supreme Court effectively cleared the way for legal same-sex marriage, the response from Republican leaders was deafening silence.

They were so quiet, some wondered whether the culture wars had finally ended with a Republican defeat.

Gary Bauer, a longtime social conservative activist, thinks that's nonsense.

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

President Obama is holding a town hall meeting Thursday in California with a group he wants to mobilize for the midterm elections: millennial entrepreneurs. Millennials — young people ages 18-34 — are a key part of the Democratic coalition.

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