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The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is reflected in the diversity of the 10 people who have the most influence on economic policy in the circle surrounding Joe Biden, says a new analysis by the political-risk advisory firm Baron Public Affairs. Disagreements among influencers, combined with Biden’s non-ideological approach, “would make the first several months an intense contest to set direction on key initiatives” if the former vice president wins the presidential election, Jonathan Baron, the Washington-based advisory firm’s founder, wrote in an email. Baron Public Affairs released its top 10 list on Oct. 29. The top name on its list is Michael Linden, executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative, whose mission is to “develop and advance a progressive economic worldview.” Linden, a 2003 graduate of Brown University who didn’t served in the Obama administration, “currently focuses on advocacy,” Baron Public Affairs says in a two-page digest of its findings. The advisory firm categories Linden as a “reformer,” along with Heather Boushey, chief executive officer of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, which she co-founded in 2013; Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute; and Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, which fights “concentrated corporate power.” The “standard-bearers” of the traditional Democratic Party who made the list, says Baron Public Affairs, are Jared Bernstein, who was Biden’s chief economist from 2009 to 2011 when he was vice president; Harvard economist Jason Furman, who worked in the Clinton administration and served as chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers; and Gene Sperling, who was director of the National Economic Council for both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The “economic technicians” on the list are Wall Streeter Ernie Tedeschi, who’s a managing director and policy economist at Evercore ISI, an independent research firm; Australian-born Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Michigan; and Martha Gimbel, senior manager for economic research at Schmidt Futures, an organization dedicated to advancing science that was founded by Eric Schmidt, the billionaire former Google chief executive. The 10 influencers were chosen through an analysis of the writings and remarks of 33 advisers, campaign officials, and platform committee members surrounding Biden, including California Senator Kamala Harris, his running mate. That produced a list of the thinkers whom those people most often cited. Three of the people who made the top 10 were among the original 33 whose citations were tracked: Boushey, Sperling, and Bernstein. Baron Public Affairs assessed only people who exert influence publicly, excluding behind-the-scenes operators. “How the policy consensus is formed in Washington is a hard thing to ascertain,” Baron says in an interview. It’s also hard to draw sharp lines between the different camps, he says. “There’s some gray here.”Bloomberg QuickTake: Now YouTube Channel
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