Elisabeth Jacobs, senior director for policy and academic programs at the Washington Center, says Boushey is good at it, too. Boushey and Jacobs once explained French economist Thomas Piketty's landmark book on wealth inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, to Sen. Angus King. That, Jacobs said, was like giving the senator "the Cliff Notes" version, and then starting "a conversation about what this might actually mean based on what he was thinking."
"She's really exceptional in doing that translational work between the serious economic and other social science academic work into the policy space," Jacobs says of Boushey.
Boushey's work on paid family leave has lent some potential clarity to the candidate's policy gaps. Clinton hasn't said much about how she would enact the policy, and Jane Waldfogel, a professor at Columbia University School of Social Work, says it's difficult to get that done at the national level versus at the state level. Three states that have started paid family leave policies have used their already-existing temporary disability insurance programs to do so, and only five states and Puerto Rico have temporary disability insurance (Washington State had its program signed in 2007 but is not yet in effect.).
Boushey thinks a national paid family leave policy is possible. In a 2012 paper for Center for American Progress, where she is a senior fellow, Boushey laid out plan for a paid family leave program that would be administered by the Social Security Administration.
On CEO pay, Boushey again gets more detailed.
"There's a lot of wiggle room to be taxing at the top, but how you do that actually has implications for compensation," Boushey says, citing a study by Piketty, University of California, Berkeley's Emmanuel Saez, and Harvard's Stefanie Stantcheva. Boushey had the economists' study out in front of her during our interview. "There's a lot of evidence that the way we've been structuring tax policy vis"“Ã "“vis those at the top is not creating the right incentives for investment, [research and development] and shared prosperity," she said.
Boushey is glad that the wealth gap has come to the forefront of the 2016 political debate.
"I have to say that it is beyond exciting to see things that you have been, for me, working on spreadsheets for and thinking about for a really long time actually entering the political discourse," she said.
Boushey said recoveries from the last three national recessions, including the most recent one, have seen anemic job growth, which has made people more aware of the gap between rich and poor—and what that means for the economy.
"What you're seeing are repeated recoveries that just aren't cutting it," she said. "We've been like ostriches putting our heads in the sand going, 'What has changed in the past two decades?'" Boushey answers her own question: "Well, one of the biggest things is inequality."