Two Indian American experts among Biden’s ‘core advisers’

Vivek Murthy

Dr. Vivek Murthy and Raj Chetty brief Democratic presidential nominee on health and economic crises.

If Democrat Joe Biden wins the US presidency, he is likely to turn to two leading Indian Americans among his “core advisers” to tackle the twin health and economic crises facing the nation.

“Plotting an ambitious presidency,” Biden according to the New York Times, is “leaning on veteran advisers with high-level governmental experience rather than outsiders and ideological rivals to help guide him.”

They include Dr. Vivek Murthy, former US Surgeon General appointed by then President Barack Obama and Harvard economist Raj Chetty.

When two people who had traveled with his Indian American running mate Kamala Harris tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month, Murthy was among two health experts present at Biden campaign’s conference call with reporters.

Raj Chetty
Raj Chetty

The other was Dr. David A. Kessler, who led the Food and Drug Administration under Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton.

Dr. Murthy and Dr. Kessler have been two of the most prominent medical figures whose counsel Biden has sought during the public health crisis, the Times said.

“Early on it was every day, or four times a week,” Dr. Kessler was quoted as saying in an interview last month, recalling briefings that he and Dr. Murthy conducted with Biden in the early days of the outbreak.

“We would send in 80- to 90-page documents, take him through the epidemic from epidemiology, therapeutics, vaccines, testing. Staff would join, originally by phone but they soon shifted to Zoom.”

READ MORE: Road to the White House

“The docs,” as Biden calls Dr. Kessler and Dr. Murthy, also pore over research and data on the virus and consult with modelers, vaccinologists and other experts so they can provide Mr. Biden with projections about the coming months, the Times said.

In addition to Dr. Kessler and Dr. Murthy, the campaign’s advisers have also included Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, who advised the Obama White House on health policy, and Lisa Monaco, Obama’s former homeland security adviser.

Biden has cast a wide net for economic advice, soliciting input from several hundred policy experts, the Times said.

Those who have briefed Biden include Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist who has produced path-breaking research on economic mobility and its roots in the last several years, it said.

Others include Lisa D. Cook, a Michigan State University economist and veteran of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, who has published work on the economic costs of racial discrimination in innovation and other areas and Janet L. Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve.

On foreign policy, the Times noted Biden would come to office with more experience than any president in memory.

Perhaps most influential among his foreign policy advisers is Antony Blinken, who worked for Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 2000s and served as a deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state under Obama.

“Known more for his diplomatic touch than any fixed ideas, he is considered a likely candidate for national security adviser or secretary of state,” the Times said.

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