Lanhee Chen

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Lanhee Chen
BornJuly 4, 1978 (1978-07-04) (age 36)
Rowland Heights, California
Alma materHarvard University
(B.A., M.A., J.D., Ph.D.)
OccupationHoover Institution Research Fellow, Stanford University lecturer, and Bloomberg columnist
Political party
Republican Party
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Lanhee Chen
BornJuly 4, 1978 (1978-07-04) (age 36)
Rowland Heights, California
Alma materHarvard University
(B.A., M.A., J.D., Ph.D.)
OccupationHoover Institution Research Fellow, Stanford University lecturer, and Bloomberg columnist
Political party
Republican Party

Lanhee Chen (Chinese: 陳仁宜; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tân Jîn-gî; born July 4, 1978)[1] is the David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution,[2] Director of Domestic Policy Studies and Lecturer in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University,[3] and Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School.[4] He is also a columnist with Bloomberg View.[5] Chen was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate to a seat on the bipartisan and independent Social Security Advisory Board, which advises the President, Congress, and the Social Security Administrator on Social Security policies.[6] He was recommended for the post by United States Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Previously, he was the policy director for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, 2012 and Romney's chief policy adviser. He has been described as the "orchestra leader" behind the Romney 2012 campaign.[7] Romney confidante Beth Myers described Chen as the person Governor Romney relied on "entirely" for policy direction.[8] He was also called one of the "rare Asian faces in prominent positions in the Republican presidential campaign."[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Chen was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina but grew up in Rowland Heights in Southern California, the son of native Taiwanese immigrants.[10] He speaks Minnan (Taiwanese Hokkien) more fluently than Mandarin.[11] His parents are from the western county of Yunlin, Taiwan.[12] They currently live in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California.[13]

He earned four degrees at Harvard University (a bachelors in government, a masters in political science, a J.D., and a Ph.D. in political science).[14][15] While at Harvard he was active in campus Republican politics.[16] He was the co-president of Harvard Model Congress.[17] The topic of his Ph.D. dissertation was a look at electoral politics.[18] His dissertation adviser was Sidney Verba.[19]


Chen has been described by the National Journal as a "prodigy," although his youth is noteworthy as well.[20]

Chen was a visiting scholar at the University of California's Institute of Governmental Studies from 2010 to 2011. Previously he was deputy campaign manager and policy director on California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner's campaign for governor, 2009–10, chief domestic policy adviser during Romney's 2007-08 campaign for president, and senior counselor to the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services.[21] He was the senior healthcare adviser for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign.[22] He is also a non-staff member of the Heritage Foundation.[23] Chen joined Romney's Free and Strong America PAC in 2011 as policy director.[24]

Chen has been called the "snarkiest wonk."[25] He appears frequently on camera and has a crisp, business-like manner.[26] Other terms used to describe Chen are having "brass knuckles," "combative," and "pugnacious",[27] while sometimes "indulging in fact-free mudslinging."[28]

Chen has been called a "rising star" of the Republican Party.[29]

Media Personality[edit]

Chen is often on television and radio, and frequently appears on Bloomberg Television, CNBC, and FOX News. He is also often on the Hugh Hewitt Show and the John Batchelor Show, both conservative talk radio programs. Chen was often a guest on Al Hunt's Political Capital, which aired on weekends on Bloomberg TV, before the show was cancelled in August 2014. Recently, he has participated on the political panel on CNN's State of the Union, the Sunday show hosted by Candy Crowley.

Policy positions[edit]


Chen is a healthcare policy expert and has argued for repeal of President Obama's healthcare law. More recently, he has noted that changes to Obamacare can help reduce the deficit[30] and that the law is problematic because it distorts the healthcare marketplace.[31]

Taxes and domestic economic plan[edit]

Chen advised Romney on tax policy.[32] He said on August 30, 2012, that Romney would work with Congress on the details of his tax policy once he's sworn in.[33][34] Chen is proposing in part a flat tax, or at least a "flatter" tax, and tax simplification. He said to the Wall Street Journal that Romney offers a tax plan “that is flatter, that is simpler, that will raise the amount of revenue that govt. needs to run properly and run well.”[35] In another interview, Chen said "Tax reform will get our tax code simpler, it’ll get it fairer, it’ll get it flatter, it’ll get it much more efficient."[36]

Chen is a proponent of the Feldstein cap, which is a proposal written about by Martin Feldstein of Harvard University in the New York Times on May 4, 2011, that would cap the tax reduction that each taxpayer could get from tax expenditures to 2 percent of his or her adjusted gross income[37] Chen also has said that Romney would "make permanent" the round of tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 and "pursue fundamental tax reform" in order to "eliminate uncertainty".[38]

On August 27, he noted that part of Romney's plan is to cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, strengthen and make permanent the R&D tax credit, "switch to a territorial tax system" as incentive for corporations to repatriate funds, and repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT).[39] In the same interview he said that Romney would like to focus tax reform on the middle class, defined as incomes under $250,000 per year, to incentives savings for things other than retirement.[40]

Chen and Romney are advocates for so-called "paycheck protection." This entails passing a law which would keep unions form automatically deducting fees from paychecks for political activities.[41]

Chen said that Romney would get "rid of Dodd-Frank" and replace it with regulation "that works."[42] He said that Romney's plan would instead use more limited regulation with more "reasonable" rules, including those that govern derivatives and "some kind of consumer protection." Chen said, "“The mistake here is to say that somehow because we repealed Dodd-Frank and we get rid of the really burdensome set of regulations that Dodd-Frank put in place, that somehow we’re going back to a dog-eat-dog kind of situation where there’s absolutely no regulation."[43]

East Asia[edit]

Chen has criticized the Obama Administration for its failed efforts to "pivot" to Asia.[44] He has also spoken extensively about US policy toward China, particularly during the Romney campaign.[45] and has been called "hawkish".[46] Chen viewed China as a topic that distinguished Romney in the 2012 campaign.[47] Chen said that Romney plans to maintain the current China and Taiwan policies. He has noted that as China is the largest trading partner with the U.S., Romney "doesn't intend to start a trade war" with China nor will the U.S. "succumb" to China. Chen describes the Romney position as critical of China's "manipulation" of its currency, putting up trade barriers, and infringing on intellectual property rights.

Other foreign policy views[edit]

Chen accompanied Mitt Romney on his campaign swing through Britain, Israel, and Poland in August 2012[48] and was one of the advisers who approved Romney's criticism of President Obama in the wake of the attack on the embassy in Libya on September 11, 2012, and the resulting death of J. Christopher Stevens.[49]


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  10. ^ Frank Stoltze (8 October 2012). "Rising Asian-American Political Star From Calif. is Romney’s Chief Policy Director". KQED. Retrieved 23 June 2013. "Lanhee Chen was born in Rowland Heights, just east of downtown Los Angeles, to parents who immigrated to the United States from Taiwan." 
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