Duo help Hillary Clinton vet policy ideas

Hillary Clinton speaking at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, on June 21.
Hillary Clinton speaking at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, on June 21.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK • Mrs Hillary Clinton has no shortage of economic advisers. Scores of world-class experts pour ideas into her campaign on the policies she should champion in her bid for the White House.

But before much of the input reaches the Democratic candidate, it is filtered through a pair of staff members known inside her campaign as the "Economikes".

Working out of Mrs Clinton's campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, Mr Michael Shapiro and Mr Michael Schmidt are helping to shape what could be a lasting economic agenda if the former secretary of state overcomes Republican rival Donald Trump in November's election.

In an interview with Reuters, Mr Shapiro and Mr Schmidt described Mrs Clinton's process for forming policy by broadly soliciting ideas and crafting them into the action points that she takes to voters.

Before Mrs Clinton takes a position, Mr Shapiro said, "she wants to know we have talked to and gotten input from everyone, making sure that we are consulting with labour, making sure that we are consulting with experts".

Mrs Clinton's inclusive approach to developing policy positions has been faulted for being slow and unwieldy. Much of the work of sifting through the wealth of the sometimes disparate ideas and data falls to the Economikes.

Both are recent graduates of Yale Law School. Prior to joining the campaign, Mr Schmidt, 30, worked at the US Treasury Department and the Yale Investments Office, helping to manage the university's endowment.

Mr Shapiro, 29, worked at the White House for the National Economic Council. Earlier this year, he married the daughter of Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

The two help Mrs Clinton draw upon a deep bench of advisers, including economist Alan Krueger, Duke professor Aaron Chatterji, and Mr Simon Johnson, a former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, along with scores of other academics and businessmen.

The fruit of the process was expected to be on display yesterday in Ohio, where Mrs Clinton was to deliver a speech contrasting her economic vision with that of Mr Trump, a businessman who often names himself as his main adviser and is known for his off-the-cuff style.

The main themes of Mrs Clinton's attack in Ohio would include Mr Trump's views on the national debt, tariffs and trade, his tax proposal, and opposition to raising the minimum wage.

Ohio, along with North Carolina, are considered battleground states for the autumn election pitting Mrs Clinton against Mr Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline ''Economikes' help Clinton shape policy'. Subscribe