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Danielle Kurtzleben

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Kurtzleben spent a year as a correspondent for Vox.com. As part of the site's original reporting team, she covered economics and business news.

Prior to Vox.com, Kurtzleben was with U.S. News & World Report for nearly four years, where she covered the economy, campaign finance and demographic issues. As associate editor, she launched Data Mine, a data visualization blog on usnews.com.

A native of Titonka, Iowa, Kurtzleben has a bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College. She also holds a master's degree in global communication from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.

In Wednesday night's GOP debate, moderators pressed GOP candidates on their massive tax reform pans. Moderator John Harwood asked Donald Trump about the idea that his massive tax cuts would make the economy take off "like a rocket ship" (an idea that Trump staunchly defended).

Right now, Americans have a front-row seat to one of the highest-profile job negotiations they will ever see.

Paul Ryan's list of demands before becoming speaker of the House includes a couple of things that few job applicants ever have to think about: party unity and a congressional rule change. But he has one demand that many workers can sympathize with: He wants time to see his kids.

In a Wednesday statement from the White House's Rose Garden, Vice President Joe Biden ended months of speculation, informing the country that he will not be seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

The decision likely leaves plenty of Biden supporters disappointed, but when you look at the numbers — polling, fundraising and endorsement data — they show he would have had to clear some pretty big hurdles to win the nomination.

Here's a rundown:

1. He still lags far behind Clinton and Sanders in the polls

This post was updated at 12:28 p.m. ET.

If Vice President Biden had announced his presidential candidacy today, he would have entered the race with 384 days until Election Day. But he said it was too late for him to be competitive.

Here's the thing: 384 days is an absurdly long time.

At least, it is when you compare American campaigns to those in other countries. The U.S. doesn't have an official campaign season, but the first candidate to jump into the presidential race, Ted Cruz, announced his candidacy on March 23 — 596 days before Election Day.

Lance Mercier knows his job gets harder when a co-worker goes out on leave. But he recently also learned that raising a newborn involves, as he puts it, an "insurmountable" amount of work.

The 39-year-old bank manager from Silver Spring, Md., is currently on leave from work taking care of his newborn son with his wife, Luz.

"As a manager who has had a lot of people go out on leave of absence, it absolutely sucks when they go out on leave," he said. "This puts everything back into perspective for me."

Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail call for an Obamacare repeal all the time. Plans to replace it are rarer, though. Obamacare is a fantastically complicated policy, and overhauling the health care system would likewise be a complicated business, affecting not only government spending and the economy, but people's very lives on an intensely personal level.

No one knows who will lead House Republicans next, but for now, chaos reigns among the House GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy shocked Washington on Thursday when he dropped out of the race for speaker of the House.

If you aren't watching Capitol Hill closely, you might not know what the big deal is, or why the GOP is having such a hard time picking a speaker. Here's a quick rundown of what's going on.

We want to cut through the spin with a new feature we're calling "Break It Down."

Break It Down is going to be a regular part of our campaign coverage. We're going to try some new things. It might read a little differently from time to time. But our goal is to zoom in on what the candidates are saying, and give you the factual breakdown you need to make a sound judgment.

There's something almost Name That Tune-ish about the way the GOP candidates are talking about tax brackets these days. Currently, there are seven. Donald Trump wants four. Jeb Bush says he can get them down to three. Chris Christie and Marco Rubio want two. Ben Carson does them one better — one 10 percent rate, inspired by the Bible.

There's a great irony to John Boehner's resignation — once upon a time, he was involved in an attempt to oust a speaker himself. The official bio on the speaker's website puts it this way: he was, back in the day, "a reformer who took on the establishment."

But when one becomes speaker, one becomes, by definition, part of the establishment. And these days, the conservative base just doesn't like the establishment.

When Pope Francis addresses Congress on Thursday, watch in the background on the C-SPAN feed for some uncomfortable fidgeting. That's because he has plenty of material to make both Democrats and Republicans squirm.

It's been a big week for abortion news.

Carly Fiorina's passionate (if inaccurate) depiction of a Planned Parenthood sting video was one of the most memorable moments of last week's GOP debate. And the House of Representatives on Friday passed two abortion-related bills — one aimed at cutting federal funds to Planned Parenthood, the other at punishing doctors who fail to provide medical care to infants that survive abortion attempts.

Given all this, you could be forgiven for thinking there's been a public-opinion shift against abortion rights in the U.S.

Carly Fiorina will make it into CNN's main debate next week, thanks to poll numbers that improved after her strong performance in Fox News' Aug. 6 "happy hour" debate.

Of course, in a field of 17, improving in the polls means moving from 1 or 2 percent to the 5 percent neighborhood.

This story was updated on Wednesday, September 9, at 5:30 PM with an estimate of the plan's revenue effects and a table of its tax brackets.

Jeb Bush's tax plan tries to do a lot. The plan aims to lower the highest tax rate, offer some relief to low earners, reform corporate taxes, stick it to hedge-fund managers and also, by the way, "unleash 4 percent growth" in the economy, as the former Florida governor puts it.

Carly Fiorina was relegated to the JV squad in the Fox News GOP presidential debate in August, but her strong performance that night helped her race past several of her peers in recent polls.

That surge in polling wasn't enough to get her into the next big debate — but it might be now.

That's because CNN Tuesday afternoon changed its criteria for who will get into its main Sept. 16 debate in such a way that Fiorina is much more likely to be included.

Jeb Bush is getting all the millionaires, and Bernie Sanders is getting the small donors — those have been two prominent storylines in the 2016 money race for the presidency.

But what about everyone in between? The Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Finance Institute released data on campaign fundraising, and it paints a fascinating picture — which we decided to make into a literal picture. Here's how the different candidates' donation patterns stack up to each other:

This is going to be an unthinkably expensive election. Case in point: estimates of spending on the presidential race stretch as high as $10 billion.

GOP presidential candidates are falling over themselves to get on record with tough immigration plans. A string of them — Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum — have spoken out in some form against birthright citizenship. That's the idea that being born on U.S. soil, regardless of your parents' legal status, automatically makes you a U.S. citizen.

Ben Carson went even further, saying he wants to secure the border — where he claims there are caves in which immigrants can hide — by using drones.

Everyone knows student debt is growing. College costs are growing. Student debt delinquencies are rising. And now Hillary Clinton has her own plan for how to stem that tide of financial problems for college graduates.

On Monday, Clinton released a package of ideas aimed at helping Americans handle their college debt, which currently totals around $1.2 trillion. The package's splashiest proposal promises future students a debt-free four-year degree from a public school.

The early 2016 presidential polls are flying, which means the complaining about polls is in full swing, too.

"You guys should know by now that the Monmouth University poll was created just to aggravate me," Chris Christie told The Washington Post recently about a New Jersey-based poll that showed him with 2 percent support. "There couldn't be a less objective pollster about Chris Christie in America."

Jeb Bush is again in damage-control mode, this time over an offhand remark he made about Planned Parenthood. He said at an event hosted by the Southern Baptist Convention that Planned Parenthood should be defunded, and he highlighted that he did so as governor of Florida.

He then added as an aside, "I'm not sure we need half-a-billion dollars for women's health issues" — a statement Hillary Clinton and other Democrats pounced on, portraying it as a gaffe that reveals that Bush doesn't care about women's health. He has since said he "misspoke."

Update: This post was updated at 6:55 p.m. ET to reflect Fox's announcement of debate participants.

The Republican presidential field has just had the most exciting fight for 10th place America has ever seen.

It also just might have been a meaningless fight.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

The State Department's latest dump of Hillary Clinton's emails may dominate the news cycle in the coming days, but her campaign also released another crucial document on Friday — a clean bill of health for the Democratic front-runner.

The confirmation comes from Lisa Bardack, a New York-based doctor who has been Clinton's physician since 2001. In a letter, she declares Clinton "a healthy-appearing female," saying that Clinton exercises regularly, eats plenty of vegetables and fruits, doesn't smoke, and "drinks alcohol only occasionally."

"Well, if I ever ran for office, I'd do better as a Democrat than as a Republican," Donald Trump told Playboy in 1990. "And that's not because I'd be more liberal, because I'm conservative. But the working guy would elect me. He likes me."

Hillary Clinton laid out some lofty goals for her presidency in a speech on Friday.

"My mission from my first day as president to the last will be to raise the incomes of hardworking Americans so they can once again afford a middle-class life," she said. "This is the defining economic challenge not only of this election but our time."

Congress is one tiny step closer to funding America's highways, as the Senate decided Wednesday night to open debate on their transportation bill as the July 31 deadline looms. The Highway Trust Fund has been in dire straits the last few years, spending more than it's taking in. Because it gets its money from the federal gas tax, the trust fund has suffered as cars have grown more fuel-efficient and some Americans have cut back on their driving.

Barack Obama said before the New Hampshire primary during his contentious primary with Hillary Clinton in 2008 that she was "likable enough." The quip got him in trouble with Clinton supporters, but Clinton's likability is at the heart of her candidacy in 2016.

Clinton has a massive lead among Democratic candidates, but polls out in key swing states Wednesday raise warning signs for her candidacy.

Donald Trump held a kickoff event for his South Carolina campaign on Tuesday, and his speech was, to put it mildly, a doozy. Speaking in Sun City, S.C., without the aid of a TelePrompTer — because "Maybe when you run for president you shouldn't be allowed to use a TelePrompTer, because you find out what you're getting" — he was defensive, brash, angry, funny and self-aggrandizing.

In a Monday speech, Hillary Clinton focused on a trend that millions of Americans know all too intimately: declining incomes.

The Clinton campaign is calling the phenomenon of stagnant wages "the defining economic challenge of our time," and as debates and primaries draw ever closer, it's becoming clear that jump-starting Americans' wages is going to be the defining challenge of the election. Candidates are furiously trying to differentiate themselves on how to deal with unstoppable phenomena.

A Recent, Scary Problem

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