The NY Times published a story today headlined, “Biden’s Brain Trust on the Economy: Liberal and Sworn to Silence.” The piece attempts to tease out who is advising Joe Biden on economics but ultimately has to make some guesses because no one involved will admit they are involved. In fact, the Biden campaign has specifically given them a “Fight Club” style warning in the form of a memo. The first rule of being part of Biden’s economic policy committee, it seems, is that you do not talk about it.
Mr. Biden is now seeking input from more than 100 left-leaning economists and other researchers, but there is little clarity on who has true influence. The Biden campaign recently formed an economic policy committee, which includes these outside experts, and imposed strict rules to ensure their public silence. A three-page document, sent last month ahead of the committee’s first online meeting, warned participants not to circulate email from committee leaders or refer to “the candidate or to the campaign” in documents.
“You are not to disclose the names of others who are involved in the committee to nonmembers,” according to the memo, which has not previously been reported.
Members were allowed to tell friends and colleagues that they are participating, it continued, but “you should not, however, disclose your participation on social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn or in your professional bio.”
A section about press inquiries began, “Simply put, do not talk to the press.”
The Times contacted some of the individuals believed to be part of the group and had to infer from their responses that they were:
Asked over email if he was advising Mr. Biden, Gabriel Zucman, one of the architects of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed tax on high-wealth Americans, referred a reporter to an email address for Mr. Biden’s press office. That address matched one that campaign officials sent to members of the newly formed economic policy committee, with instructions to give it to reporters in the event of questions about Mr. Biden.
While it’s not clear exactly why the campaign is trying to keep things so quiet, one reason may be that Biden is increasingly reaching out to economists on the left, like Zucman, who the Times previous referred to as one of “the most polarizing economists in the 2020 campaign.” The other was Emmanuel Saez who, like Zucman, teaches at Berkeley. Together they were the behind Warren’s 2% wealth tax proposal.
So is Biden going to adopt Warren’s wealth tax? Is this a hint about who he’s going to select as his running-mate? It could be, but no one is talking.
And economic advisor to President Trump complained recently about Biden’s team of hidden advisors. “It is unethical to formally advise a candidate and publicly advocate the candidate’s views while concealing that relationship,” Kevin Hassett said. He added, “If he does have an economic team, then he should identify them. If he doesn’t identify them, then the advisers should, at the very least, identify themselves as Biden supporters when appearing in the media.”
A Biden spokesman replied, “Dr. Hassett and his boss should both spend less time griping over cable news coverage and more time trying to fix this mess they got us into.” I think the mess “they got us into” refers to the shutdown caused by the coronavirus which in turn damaged the economy? Remember just a few weeks ago when every Democrat was saying Trump should have shuttered the country sooner and was crazy to talk about reopening in May? Now all of the damage caused by the thing Democrats wanted more of is just Trump’s fault I guess.
Soon enough we’ll get a better idea how far left Biden is willing to move, but for now mums the word.