Scott Horsley

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.

Horsley spent a decade on the White House beat, covering both the Trump and Obama administrations. Before that, he was a San Diego-based business reporter for NPR, covering fast food, gasoline prices, and the California electricity crunch of 2000. He also reported from the Pentagon during the early phases of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before joining NPR in 2001, Horsley worked for NPR Member stations in San Diego and Tampa, as well as 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. He lives in Washington, DC, with his dog, Rosie.

Ben Franklin famously observed that nothing is certain but death and taxes.

So far, Congress hasn't repealed the former, but the future of estate taxes — a largely overlooked piece of the "fiscal cliff" — remains uncertain as this year draws to a close.

Until now, most of the year-end tax debate has focused on the income tax, but another battle could be brewing over estate taxes.

As leaders in Washington try to make a deal to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts slated to go into effect in the new year, one major focus of the negotiations is whether to let taxes go up on the rich.

The Obama administration wants to allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for top earners. House Speaker John Boehner and congressional Republicans have countered with a proposal that they say would raise revenue through ending loopholes and deductions in the tax code and would not increase tax rates.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says it's up to congressional Republicans to take the next step in budget talks to avoid the pending automatic spending cuts and tax increases at the end of the year.

Appearing on the Sunday talk shows, Geithner said there's "no path to an agreement" until Republicans are willing to accept higher tax rates on the rich.

President Obama is hoping the same campaign tools that helped him win re-election will also deliver a policy win in the fight over federal taxes.

The president wants Congress to extend Bush-era tax cuts for most Americans, while allowing taxes to go up for the wealthiest 2 percent. His aides are using email, social media and beyond-the-Beltway campaign appearances in hopes of putting pressure on Republican lawmakers.

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President Obama meets with labor leaders at the White House on Tuesday to discuss how to steer clear of the so-called fiscal cliff. It's the first of many meetings aimed at avoiding automatic tax increases and spending cuts at the beginning of the new year.

A week ago, the president proved again that he and his team are good at winning elections. The question now is whether he can translate victory at the ballot box to success in shaping policy.

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President Obama offered thoughts and prayers Tuesday for all those who have been affected by Sandy. He also offered something more tangible: the full resources of the federal government.

"The most important message I have for them is that America's with you," he said. "We are standing behind you, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get back on your feet."

For Obama, the federal government is a critical vehicle for that kind of help. Republicans put more faith in local government, and even voluntary efforts.

Later this week we'll get another snapshot of the U.S. job market: the last unemployment report before next week's presidential election.

Forecasters expect another sign of slow but steady job growth. Whoever is in the Oval Office next year will have to cope with a sluggish U.S. economy and confront some urgent policy decisions.

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