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EXCLUSIVE: GOP Policy Expert Lanhee Chen on Tax Reform, Obamacare, and More

Republicans in Washington are dealing with a dizzying set of questions now, on health care, tax reform, foreign policy, and more. GOP policy expert Lanhee Chen has answers.

Lanhee Chen

The Trump administration and the GOP-led Congress are confronting a complicated set of issues in 2017 that have long plagued Washington: Obamacare, comprehensive tax reform, North Korea, Russia, and more.

To help readers navigate these complicated issues, the Need to Know (NTK) Network talked to Lanhee Chen on Tuesday. Chen is a Republican policy expert who has advised leaders like Mitt Romney and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on everything from health care to foreign policy.

NTK had five questions for Chen. He had five answers.

TAX REFORM: “LONG OVERDUE”

Asked about the GOP’s plans to tackle tax reform in 2017, Chen said “fundamental reform of our tax code is long overdue.”

“I applaud the president for putting in front of the American people a set of principles that he wants to achieve,” Chen said. “I think it’s exactly the right debate for us to be having.”

Chen wants to see lower rates, especially on the corporate side, and a simplification of the individual part of the tax code.

OBAMACARE REPEAL: “TIME IS NOW”

Asked about AHCA, which passed in the House on Thursday, Chen called it “a good start.”

AHCA “does a number of things that are very very important,” Chen said, including addressing “some of the financing challenges in the Medicaid program” and providing “assistance for people who want to purchase healht insurance.”

“In my ideal world, there might be some changes I’d make to the bill,” Chen said, citing the “huge problem” of health care costs for many Americans, but for now it’s the “best vehicle we have.”

“The time is now,” Chen concluded.

TOP 3 FOREIGN POLICY THREATS

When asked for the top foreign policy threat facing Americans in 2017, Chen named no fewer than three:

  • North Korea: Given “how unpredictable and how repressive that regime is”
  • Russia: “Interferes with some of the important foreign policy and geopolitical goals” for the Western world, including the U.S.
  • Radical Islamic terrorism: “Burgeoning movements abroad, but also homegrown terrorism here”

SOCIAL SECURITY: “A BIG PROBLEM SPOT”

Chen serves on the bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board. NTK Network asked Chen for his thoughts on the problems facing and possible solutions for Social Security.

“The program is in some fundamental fiscal trouble as we look ahead,” Chen said. “If we don’t make some changes to the program that ensure sustainability for young Americans, you’re gonna see across-the-board benefit cuts.”

Possible solutions, Chen said, include “fundamental reforms around eligibility,” including raising the eligibility age, “means-testing” benefits from some wealthier Americans, and reforming the disability insurance portion of Socail Security.

D.C.’S TOP THINKERS

When asked for some Republican leaders Chen admires as good policy studies, the GOP policy expert had a few in mind:

  • Speaker Paul Ryan: “I just think the world of his ability to process difficult policy issues and to have a really frank discussion with the American people … [about] systemic reform”
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR): A “college friend” of Chen, he called Cotton a “great thinker, particularly on defense and foreign policy issues”
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): A “great policy guy” but also a good communicator on policy, according to Chen

These leaders, and the GOP-led government, give the Republican Party a chance to “really accentuate some big, conservative policy change” before 2018, Chen concluded.