Lanhee Chen

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Lanhee Chen
Lanhee Chen Photograph.jpg
Born (1978-07-04) July 4, 1978 (age 41)
ResidenceSilicon Valley,[1] California, U.S.
EducationJohn A. Rowland High School, Rowland Heights, California, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Alma materHarvard University
(A.B., A.M., J.D., Ph.D.)[2][3]
OccupationAcademic, attorney, policy expert, commentator[4]
Years active2003 – present
Known forFellow, Hoover Institution; Senior Adviser, Marco Rubio presidential campaign, 2016;
Policy Director, Mitt Romney presidential campaign, 2012;
Domestic Policy Director, Mitt Romney presidential campaign, 2008
Political partyRepublican
WebsiteOfficial website

Lanhee J. Chen (/ˈlænh ɛn/; Chinese: 陳仁宜; pinyin: Chén Rényí; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tân Jîn-gî; born July 4, 1978)[5] is an American policy expert, academic, and political commentator. Chen currently serves as the David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution,[6] Director of Domestic Policy Studies and Lecturer in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University,[7] and Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School.[8] He is also senior counselor at the Brunswick Group, an international business advisory firm.

Chen is most well known for his role as a policy adviser and counselor to top Republican politicians and office holders. He was the policy director for the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign and Romney's chief policy adviser. He has been described as the "orchestra leader" behind the Romney 2012 campaign.[2] Romney confidante Beth Myers described Chen as the person Romney relied on "entirely" for policy direction.[2] Chen was also a senior adviser to the 2016 presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio.[9]

Chen was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. 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.[10] He was recommended for the post by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. His term expired in September 2018.

He also currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of El Camino Hospital, the hospital of Silicon Valley.[11]

Early life[edit]

Chen was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, but grew up in Rowland Heights in Southern California, the son of Taiwanese immigrants.[12] He speaks Taiwanese Hokkien more fluently than Mandarin Chinese.[2] His father is originally from the western county of Yunlin, Taiwan, while his mother grew up in Taipei, Taiwan.[2] They currently live in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California.[13]


Chen was educated at John A. Rowland High School, a public high school in his hometown of Rowland Heights in Southern California, where he founded the Junior State of America (JSA) Chapter in 1992, and was Chapter President through the 1993–1994 academic year.[14] Chen was an accomplished speaker and debater in high school, and was one of the top students in California and nationally in events such as International Extemporaneous speaking and Lincoln-Douglas debate. He was also one of the nation's top student Senators in the 1994 National Speech and Debate Association John C. Stennis National Student Congress.[15]

After high school graduation, he went to Harvard University, where he earned four degrees (an A.B. in Government magna cum laude, an A.M. in Political Science, a J.D. cum laude, and a Ph.D. in Political Science).[2][3] At Harvard, he participated in political and policy-oriented extracurricular activities.[16] In 1999, Chen was a co-president of Harvard Model Congress.[5] The topic of his Ph.D. dissertation was a look at electoral politics, which included analyses of judicial elections, presidential elections, and the impact of redistricting on electoral outcomes.[5] His dissertation advisers included prominent political scientists Sidney Verba and Gary King.[17]


Chen has been described by the National Journal as a "prodigy."[3] He has spent time in government, academia, and the private sector. He is a Christian.[18] Chen is married, has two children, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.[19]


Political and policy work[edit]

Chen served in 2014 and again in 2018 as a Senior Adviser on Policy to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Prior to serving as Romney's chief campaign policy adviser, he joined Romney's Free and Strong America PAC in 2011 as policy director.[16] Previously, he was deputy campaign manager and policy director on California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner's campaign for governor, Domestic Policy Director during Romney's 2008 campaign for president, and Senior Counselor to the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services.[20] He was the healthcare adviser for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign.[2] He was also an Associate Attorney at the international law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. In 2003, Chen was the Winnie Neubauer Visiting Fellow in Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.[21]

In 2015, Chen was named one of the POLITICO 50, a list of the top "thinkers, doers, and visionaries transforming American politics".[22] He earned a similar honor in 2012, when he was named to a list of POLITICO's "50 Politicos to Watch". Chen was recently called a "rising star" of the Republican Party.[13]

Media personality[edit]

Chen was named a CNN Political Commentator in 2016, and is believed to be the first Asian American to hold that position. He is often on television and radio, and frequently appears on a variety of networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, CNBC, FOX Business Network, Bloomberg TV and the BBC. He has appeared as a roundtable guest on ABC This Week, Face the Nation and Meet the Press and is a guest on top television political programming, including MSNBC's Morning Joe and MTP Daily, and CNN's State of the Union and The Lead with Jake Tapper. Chen is also a frequent guest on the Hugh Hewitt Show, a conservative talk radio program. He was also one of the lead commentators on Bloomberg TV's 2014 election night coverage with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. In September 2017, Chen made a video for Prager University (distributed via YouTube and Facebook) titled Why Is Health Insurance so Complicated?[23]

He currently hosts a podcast called Crossing Lines with Lanhee Chen. [24]


Chen holds multiple appointments at Stanford University. In addition to his roles at the Hoover Institution, School of Law, and Public Policy Program, he is also an Affiliate of the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies[25] and on the Faculty Steering Committee of the Haas Center for Public Service.[26] From 2010 to 2011, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. During his time as a graduate student, Chen taught extensively as a Teaching Fellow and won the Harvard University Certificate for Distinction in Teaching eight times.[27]


Chen is an Operating Partner with New Road Capital Partners, a private equity fund focused on growth equity investing.[28] He helps to lead the fund's health care investments.

Policy positions[edit]


Chen is a healthcare policy expert and has argued for repeal of President Obama's healthcare law. More recently, he has stated that changes to Obamacare can help reduce the deficit[29] and that the law is problematic because it distorts the healthcare marketplace.[30] He contributed to a conservative, market-based replacement for the Affordable Care Act, which was published by the American Enterprise Institute in 2015.[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.[32][33] Chen is proposing in part a flat tax, or at least a "flatter" tax, and tax simplification. He told 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".[32] 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."[34]

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.[35] 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".[36]

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.[17]

Chen said that Romney would get "rid of Dodd-Frank" and replace it with regulation "that works".[34] 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."[33]

East Asia[edit]

Chen criticized the Obama Administration for its failed efforts to "pivot" to Asia.[37] He has also spoken extensively about U.S. policy toward China, particularly during the Romney campaign,[38] and has been called "hawkish".[38] Chen viewed China as a topic that distinguished Romney in the 2012 campaign.[33] 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 United States, Romney "doesn't intend to start a trade war" with China nor will the United States "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[39] 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.[40]

Nonprofit work[edit]

Chen is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Junior Statesmen Foundation[41] and is on the Advisory Board of the Partnership for the Future of Medicare.[42] He also serves on the National Advisory Committee of the Democracy Fund, a nonprofit established by Pierre Omidyar, which invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.[43]

He was named the inaugural Director and currently serves as a Senior Adviser to the Aspen Economic Strategy Group, a project of the Aspen Institute co-chaired by Henry Paulson and Erskine Bowles, aimed at gathering, in a non-partisan spirit, a diverse range of distinguished leaders and thinkers to address significant structural challenges in the U.S. economy.[44]

Chen serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of El Camino Hospital, a hospital in Silicon Valley.[11]

In 2015, Chen was selected as a member of the Committee of 100, a membership organization of Chinese Americans dedicated to the spirit of excellence and achievement in America.[45][46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lanhee Chen, Hoover Institution fellow". Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Lanhee Chen, the 'orchestra leader' behind Romney's campaign|WCT Archived 2013-09-26 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c Belogolova, Olga (August 27, 2012). "For Romney Aide, a Test in Fusing Politics and Policy". National Journal. Archived from the original on August 28, 2012.
  4. ^ "Lanhee Chen". Stanford University Public Policy Center.
  5. ^ a b c An Academic Politician | News | The Harvard Crimson
  6. ^ Lanhee J. Chen | Hoover Institution
  7. ^ "Affiliated Faculty and Lecturers". Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  8. ^ Lanhee Chen - Stanford Law School
  9. ^ Johnson, Eliana (September 14, 2015). "Rubio Campaign Snags Former Romney Policy Director". National Review.
  10. ^ President Obama Announces Another Key Administration Post |
  11. ^ a b Board of Directors Biographies | El Camino Hospital
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ a b Taiwnese American Lanhee Chen in Key Role on Romney Team | Current Events | | An Asian American collaborative blog
  14. ^ "JSA: Civics Education and Leadership Programs for High School Students - Lanhee Chen". Junior State of America. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  15. ^ National Winners of the Student Congress
  16. ^ a b "Lanhee Chen". The Washington Post. 2012-07-17.
  17. ^ a b Molly Redden: Meet the Romney Campaign’s Snarkiest Wonk | The New Republic
  18. ^ "How Would Jesus Vote?". Veritas Forum.
  19. ^ "Lanhee J. Chen". Hoover Institution. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  20. ^ Romney for President, Inc.- Organization, 2011-12 Primary Edition
  21. ^ "Lanhee Chen". Archived from the original on 2012-08-26. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
  22. ^ Politico 50: Our guide to the thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2015
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "FSI - Lanhee Chen". Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  26. ^ "Faculty Steering Committee | Haas Center for Public Service". Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  27. ^ "Lanhee J. Chen". Hoover Institution. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  28. ^ "Lanhee Chen - NewRoad Capital Partners". NewRoad Capital Partners. Retrieved 2018-08-20.
  29. ^ "How Changes to Obamacare Can Cut the Deficit". Archived from the original on April 5, 2013.
  30. ^ "How Obamacare Will Distort the Health-Care Market". Archived from the original on April 9, 2013.
  31. ^ Improving health and health care
  32. ^ a b c Paletta, Damian (2012-08-30). "Top Adviser: Romney Would Work With Congress to Limit Tax Breaks". The Wall Street Journal.
  33. ^ a b c "China Sets Romney Apart, Aide Says". Bloomberg.
  34. ^ a b Romney/Ryan 2012 policy director Lanhee Chen « The Hugh Hewitt Show
  35. ^ "Romney Open to Deficit-Cut Capping Benefits From Tax Exemptions". Bloomberg.
  36. ^ "Which Tax Loopholes Will Romney Close?". Bloomberg.
  37. ^ Nonessential | Foreign Policy
  38. ^ a b Taiwanese-American heads Romney campaign's policy division | Focus Taiwan - CNA English News
  39. ^ "Mitt Romney, Stuart Stevens, Lanhee Chen". Archived from the original on January 14, 2015. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  40. ^ Baker, Peter; Parker, Ashley (2012-09-12). "Romney's Criticism of Obama Is Furiously Returned". The New York Times.
  41. ^ JSA - Junior State of AmericaFoundation Officers, Directors, Trustees - JSA - Junior State of America
  42. ^ Advisory Board | Partnership for the Future of Medicare
  43. ^ "About Us: Democracy Fund". DemocracyFund. Retrieved 2018-08-20.
  44. ^ "Economic Strategy Group - The Aspen Institute". The Aspen Institute. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
  45. ^ Committee of 100. 2015 New members. "". Retrieved Dec 4, 2016.
  46. ^ Committee of 100

External links[edit]