Lanhee J. Chen

David and Diane Steffy Fellow in American Public Policy Studies

Lanhee J. Chen, Ph.D. is the David and Diane Steffy Fellow in American Public Policy Studies at the Hoover Institution and Director of Domestic Policy Studies and Lecturer in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University.

A veteran of several high-profile political campaigns, Chen has worked in politics, government, academia, and the private sector.

He has advised numerous major campaigns, including four presidential efforts. In 2012, he was policy director of the Romney-Ryan campaign, and served as Governor Mitt Romney’s chief policy adviser, a senior strategist on the campaign, and the person responsible for developing the campaign’s domestic and foreign policy. Chen also advised Senator Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential bid, served as Domestic Policy Director of Romney's 2008 campaign, and was a health policy adviser to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004. During the 2014 and 2018 campaign cycles, Chen served as a Senior Adviser on Policy to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

In addition to his academic appointments, Chen is a Senior Counselor at the Brunswick Group, a global business advisory firm; an Operating Partner at New Road Capital Partners, where he helps to direct healthcare investments for the private equity firm’s current fund; and Chair of the Board of Directors at El Camino Health in Northern California. He is also a member of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group at the Aspen Institute.

From 2014 to 2018, Chen served as a presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed member of the Social Security Advisory Board—an independent, bipartisan panel that advises the president, Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters related to the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs. He also served in the George W. Bush Administration as a senior official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Chen’s writings have appeared in a variety of outlets, including The Wall Street JournalThe New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He has been a CNN Political Commentator and provided political analysis and commentary on every other major television network. Chen currently serves as a member of the Editorial Board of the Salem Media Group. 

Chen was honored in 2015 as one of the POLITICO 50, a list of the “thinkers, doers, and visionaries transforming American politics.” He earned a similar honor in 2012 when he was named one of POLITICO’s “50 Politicos to Watch.” 

In 2017, Chen was the William E. Simon Visiting Professor in the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University. At Stanford, he also serves on the Faculty Steering Committee of the Haas Center for Public Service, is an affiliated faculty member of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies and was Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School. An eight-time winner of Harvard University’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Chen’s scholarship has appeared or been cited in several of the nation’s top political science journals.

Previously, Chen practiced law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and was the Winnie Neubauer Visiting Fellow in Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Chen serves in a variety of leadership roles in nonprofits and community-based organizations. He is Chair of the Policy Advisory Board of Free the Facts, a policy education group; a Director of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP); a member of the Advisory Board of the Partnership for the Future of Medicare; and a member of the Council of Scholars for the Better Medicare Alliance. He is also a member of the Committee of 100, an organization of prominent Chinese Americans.

Chen earned his Ph.D. and A.M. in political science from Harvard University, his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School, and his A.B. magna cum laude in government from Harvard College. He is a member of the State Bar of California.

A native of Rowland Heights, California, he currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and children.

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Recent Commentary


Permission To Vote? Lanhee Chen Talks To A&G.

interview with Lanhee J. Chenvia Armstrong & Getty
Friday, October 23, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Lanhee Chen discusses the final 2020 presidential debate.

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

Who Won The Debate

by Lanhee J. Chenvia CNN
Friday, October 23, 2020

CNN Opinion asked contributors for their takes on how Donald Trump and Joe Biden did in the final presidential debate. The views expressed in this commentary are their own.

Proposition 16 Solves For A Problem That May Not Actually Exist

by Lanhee J. Chen
Thursday, October 22, 2020

This year, California voters are being asked to vote on an initiative, Proposition 16, that would again make race an explicit factor in public employment, contracting, and college admissions. This effort comes over twenty years after Californians outlawed the use of affirmative action — or the preferencing of race, ethnicity, or gender — in these processes.


Former Romney 2012 Policy Director Lanhee Chen On How Trump Should Approach Debate

interview with Lanhee J. Chenvia Yahoo News
Thursday, October 22, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Lanhee Chen discusses how President Trump should approach the final debate.

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The Budget and Tax Effects of a Federal Public Option After COVID-19

by Lanhee J. Chen, Tom Church, Daniel Heilvia Analysis
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

A public option that follows historical trends would become the third-largest federal spending program and increase deficits by almost $800 billion over ten years. These increases are particularly problematic given the significant increases in deficits fueled by the relief packages enacted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Lanhee Chen: The Long Arm Of The Law

interview with Lanhee J. Chenvia Crossing Lines with Lanhee Chen
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Lanhee Chen is joined by long-time election lawyer Ben Ginsberg to talk about what could (but probably won’t) go wrong in this year’s election. They talk about everything from ballot harvesting to recounts in a effort to help us understand what is likely to transpire in the last two weeks before Election Day, and beyond.


Lanhee Chen: How The Political Landscape Has Changed For Trump In Swing State Of Wisconsin

interview with Lanhee J. Chenvia CBS News
Monday, October 19, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Lanhee Chen discusses how the political landscape has changed in Wisconsin for President Trump since he won the state four years ago, and how the fallout from police shootings, like that of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, may determine how some voters cast their ballots in cities nationwide.


Biden’s Public Option Would Mean Massive Tax Hikes

by Lanhee J. Chen, Daniel Heilvia The Wall Street Journal
Monday, October 19, 2020

[Subscription required] The middle class will eventually be taxed to pay for a government run health-insurance plan.

Analysis and Commentary

Lanhee Chen: Amy Coney Barrett Nomination Is Not About Obamacare

by Lanhee J. Chenvia Townhall Review
Thursday, October 15, 2020

Senate Democrats want the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be all about Obamacare and, more specifically, its protections for those with preexisting conditions. That’s because in a few weeks, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in California v. Texas, a lawsuit about the constitutionality of Obamacare.

Analysis and Commentary

Amy Coney Barrett, ObamaCare And The Supreme Court

by Lanhee J. Chenvia Fox News
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Legal experts across the political spectrum predict that the Supreme Court is unlikely to strike down all of ObamaCare in November.