On Thursday, Larry Kudlow, former Reagan economist and longtime CNBC commentator, will report for duty as Trump’s new chief economic adviser and director of the National Economic Council. Kudlow will fill the role vacated by former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, who left the White House after differing significantly with the president over tariffs to protect America’s steel and aluminum industries.
“Larry Kudlow was offered, and accepted, the position of Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Kudlow’s longstanding employer, CNBC—where he served as a financial analyst and on air personality— first broke the news of Kudlow’s selection.
Kudlow is best known for his staunch advocacy of tax cuts. As an informal adviser to the Trump campaign and later the White House, Kudlow helped develop some of the ideas that became the Trump tax cut plan in 2016, which many consider the crowning achievement of Trump’s first year.
Kudlow has made some course corrections, putting him slightly more inline with the President.
Kudlow was once an advocate of fairly open immigration but changed his mind in 2015 following terrorist attacks in San Benardino and Paris. The U.S. should “seal the borders” and end all immigration and visas until the system can be made safer, Kudlow wrote.
Kudlow also criticized the president’s call for sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports., but appeared to back away from that position as the administration exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariffs, and said it was opening to providing further exemptions. Trump told reporters on Tuesday that Kudlow’s “divergent opinions” on tariffs was not a dealbreaker and that he welcomed such debate.
China may see a shift in attitude
Known as a staunch free-trader with experience on Wall Street and for his hard-charging style, Kudlow wasted no time in laying down the law to China, saying Beijing deserved its “comeuppance”.
People who have spoken to Kudlow say he is “100 percent on board” with the Trump administration’s policy goals to end Chinese economic domination. Kudlow has praised the administration’s attention to the issue of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers by China and Chinese companies.
During an interview on Tuesday Kudlow made his thoughts on the way ahead with China plain, and gave a nod toPresident George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” in the war against Iraq saying,
“A thought that I have is the United States could lead a coalition of large trading partners and allies against China, or to let China know that they’re breaking the rules left and right. That’s the way I’d like to see. You call it a sort of a trade coalition of the willing.”
Kudlow has credited Art Laffer, often called the godfather of supply-side tax cuts, as being formative in his own economic views. Kudlow himself served as an economic guru to many Republican and conservative tax cutters, including Jack Kemp and Rush Limbaugh. In addition to serving as a member of the Reagan economics team, Kudlow worked at Bear Stearns until 1994.
The 70-year-old joins a Trump trade and economics team that includes chief trade official Robert Lighthizer, who is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the recently ascendant China hawk Peter Navarro, a top trade adviser.
Mixed feelings about the new appointment
While some economists like Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics believe “Larry is a good choice,” not everyone is excited about the prospect of his running the National Economic Council.