Scott Horsley

Scott Horsley is a White House correspondent for NPR News. He reports on the policy and politics of the Obama Administration, with a special emphasis on economic issues.

The 2012 campaign is the third presidential contest Horsley has covered for NPR. He previously reported on Senator John McCain's White House bid in 2008 and Senator John Kerry's campaign in 2004. Thanks to this experience, Horsley has become an expert in the motel shampoo offerings of various battleground states.

Horsley took up the White House beat after serving as a San Diego-based business correspondent for NPR where he covered fast food, gasoline prices, and the California electricity crunch of 2000. He reported from the Pentagon during the early phases of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before joining NPR in 2001, Horsley was a reporter for member station KPBS-FM, where he received numerous honors, including a Public Radio News Directors' award for coverage of the California energy crisis.

Earlier in his career, Horsley worked as a reporter for WUSF-FM in Tampa, Florida, and as a news writer and reporter for commercial radio stations in Boston and Concord, New Hampshire. Horsley began his professional career as a production assistant for NPR's Morning Edition.

Horsley earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and an MBA from San Diego State University.

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President Obama has received a high-profile endorsement for his re-election bid. Though it's no surprise the country's largest federation of unions, the AFL-CIO, has traditionally endorsed a Democrat for president.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The strength of that support bears watching this year. Collective bargaining has been under attack in several states, draining union resources.

MONTAGNE: But labor leaders say it's also made them more determined than ever to keep Mr. Obama in the White House. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

The American job market is still a long way from healthy, but its pulse feels a lot stronger now than it did six months ago. The Labor Department says employers added 227,000 workers to their payrolls in February, a solid — if not spectacular — performance. It continues a trend that suggests a genuine recovery, not a temporary blip.

The unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent, even as nearly 500,000 people joined the workforce.

Improvement in the job market is a boon for President Obama as he tries to hold onto his own job in November.

While Republican candidates continue to slug it out for their party's White House nomination, President Obama is getting a head start on the general election.

Obama's grassroots campaign is already hard at work with volunteers hosting house parties and staffing phone banks to find and mobilize the president's supporters. The campaign has opened five offices in Virginia, and that's not counting the basement of Sue Langley's house in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Vienna, where more than a dozen volunteers assembled this past weekend.

Mitt Romney gave a major economic speech Friday, in which he stressed his plan to lower personal income taxes.

Romney's own taxes became an issue last month, when he acknowledged paying a lower tax rate than many middle-class families.

Republican presidential hopefuls have had a field day attacking President Obama for the federal government's trillion-dollar deficits and promising things will be different when the GOP is in charge.

But while the candidates talk a good game about stemming the tide of red ink, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says their proposals don't necessarily add up.

Hourly workers at General Motors will soon be getting profit-sharing checks of up to $7,000 each after the automaker reported record earnings this week. President Obama may also get a political dividend, two and a half years after a government-engineered turnaround.

Obama reminded a group of United Auto Worker members this week that, back in 2009, his rescue of GM and Chrysler had plenty of critics.

Deficit reduction takes a back seat to job growth in the federal budget President Obama will unveil Monday. The spending plan forecasts more red ink in the current fiscal year than in 2011. Under the president's plan, budget deficits wouldn't reach a sustainable level until 2018.

The White House is trying to mend fences with Catholics and others who were outraged at a new rule governing insurance coverage for birth control.

That policy would have required Catholic hospitals, universities and other institutions to cover birth control in their employees' health insurance. Critics called that an assault on religious freedom.

President Obama announced a change of course Friday, and the White House is hoping to regain religious allies and maintain support from the women who voted for Obama.

A Change Of Policy

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has joined the chorus criticizing President Obama over a controversial policy that would require most employers, including Catholic hospitals and universities, to include birth control in their employees' health insurance.

Catholic opinion leaders have denounced the policy as an assault on their religious freedom.

It turns out January was a surprisingly good month in the job market. U.S. employers added 243,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.

That better-than-expected news from the Labor Department triggered a rally in the stock market Friday, with the Dow climbing more than 150 points. The news could also help the stock of President Obama.

President Obama is back in Washington Saturday after visiting five different states, all of which are likely to be hotly contested in November. He expanded on some of the ideas he outlined in Tuesday's State of the Union address and offered a preview of the argument he'll be making in the general election. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

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

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And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Take a map of the United States and stick pins in every state President Obama visits this week, and you would have a partial picture of how he hopes to win re-election. The president is visiting states he hopes to win this fall.

A day after delivering his State of the Union address to Congress, President Obama took his message on the road. Obama hoped that stops at manufacturing sites in Iowa and Arizona would drive home his point that the government should do more to encourage factory jobs.

The three-day trip also includes stops in Colorado, Nevada and Michigan. Those are all states likely to be important in the November election.

Obama kicked off his road trip at Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing, a factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

President Obama wants to see more tax breaks for manufacturers and fewer tax breaks for millionaires. Those were among the ideas floated in the president's third State of the Union speech last night. Throughout the morning, we're getting reaction to that address.

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Even if Wikipedia was working, you couldn't use it to locate information about Mitt Romney's most recent tax filings. He has yet to make that tax information public.

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Under pressure from his opponents, Romney says he will release information in April.

MONTAGNE: But yesterday, Romney did let slip a provocative tax detail. He acknowledged he's probably paying an effective tax rate of around 15 percent. And that's well below the rate that many middle-class families pay.

The widening gulf between the rich and everyone else is a growing source of tension in America.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds the income gap is now seen as a bigger source of conflict in the U.S. than race, age or national origin. That's why some believe the issue could matter in the presidential campaign, and others worry it could warp the national debate.

Two out of three Americans now perceive strong social conflicts over the income gap — up sharply from two years ago. Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center has an idea what's behind the increase.

The central argument of Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is that he understands how the economy works — thanks to his business background — in a way that President Obama does not.

Democrats have been challenging the former Massachusetts governor's claim that the private equity firm he founded helped to create more than 100,000 jobs. Now, some of Romney's Republican rivals are raising questions of their own.

President Obama acknowledged Friday that the economic recovery has a long way to go. Still, he was able to share some good news. The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent.

"Obviously, we have a lot more work to do," he said, "but it is important for the American people to recognize that we've now added 3.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 22 months."

Those better-than-expected numbers could help Obama as he tries to hang onto his own job.

President Obama campaigned outside Cleveland, Ohio, Wednesday, where he announced the appointment of a new consumer watchdog. The president used a recess appointment to install Richard Cordray. That might have been routine, but the Senate is not officially in recess.

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