Reality-Show President Picks Cable News Talking Head to Be His Economic Adviser | News
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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Reality-Show President Picks Cable News Talking Head to Be His Economic Adviser

Posted by on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 9:18 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

It makes perfect sense, really. The president who spends much of his day watching cable news picked a guy he watches on cable news to be his top economic adviser, replacing the guy who left in a dispute over the president’s tariffs.
  • From the NYT: “President Trump loves big personalities, live television, the stock market and loyalty. In choosing Larry Kudlow, a CNBC television commentator, to serve as the next director of the National Economic Council, he has checked all those boxes. Mr. Kudlow, often clad in a pinstripe suit and colorful tie, is a frequent pundit on the financial news channel where he opines about everything from the economy to the stock market to tax cuts and free trade. He is an unabashed prognosticator who relishes making the kinds of provocative statements that Mr. Trump has turned into an art form. He has lamented ‘growing government dependency,’ touted tax cuts for the wealthy and lavished praise on high-flying corporate executives.”
  • “Mr. Kudlow is a radio and television commentator and an economics consultant. He was a zealous convert to the supply-side economic policies that swept the Republican Party in the late 1970s. He is a protégé of the supply-side economist Arthur Laffer, with whom Mr. Kudlow worked on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign. Mr. Kudlow went on to serve in Mr. Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget. Like many past National Economic Council directors, he is not an academically trained economist—he studied for a master’s degree at Princeton University but did not earn one—but he served as chief economist for Bear Stearns and made a name advising prominent conservative politicians.”
  • The liberal site ThinkProgress has a less charitable take on his career: “Kudlow has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and did not complete a master’s degree in economics at Princeton. He has worked at a junior level at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and also in the Reagan Office of Management and Budget. He worked at Bear Stearns from 1987 to 1994, until he was fired for cocaine abuse. After working for Arthur Laffer’s firm, he got into journalism, most notably hosting a business show on CNBC.”
  • Kudlow is a supply-side free-market guy, and he’s criticized Trump for pushing tariffs. Now he’s singing a slightly different tune. From the Times: “The trade critique carried into Mr. Trump’s tenure in the White House. Like Mr. Cohn, Mr. Kudlow had been publicly critical of Mr. Trump’s push for stiff and sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. He jointly wrote a critical column urging the president to reconsider his plan to impose tariffs. ‘Trump should also examine the historical record on tariffs,’ he and his co-authors wrote, ‘because they have almost never worked as intended and almost always deliver an unhappy ending.’ Mr. Kudlow said Wednesday that although he had little stomach for blanket tariffs, he was ‘absolutely delighted’ that Mr. Trump had softened his stance since first announcing global tariffs on steel and aluminum. ‘We talked a lot about that,’ Mr. Kudlow said, adding that Mr. Trump ‘regards tariffs as a negotiating tool. And I think that’s fair.’ Mr. Trump indicated on Tuesday that he saw little disagreement with Mr. Kudlow on the issue of tariffs.”

WHAT IT MEANS: Again, it makes sense, doesn’t it? But consider this as well: Kudlow is also really bad at predictions. Per ThinkProgress’s tally: He recommended buying stocks in September 2008, weeks before a crash that wiped out $1.2 trillion in wealth. He argued that invading Iraq in 2002 would boost the economy. He denied the existence of the housing bubble in 2005. He dismissed the idea that a recession was coming in December 2007, the month the Great Recession began. He dismissed the seriousness of the recession in February 2008, saying, “It’s nothing to get up in arms about.” In July 2008, he called it a “mental recession.” In 2009, he praised Wall Street CEOs who use taxpayer bailouts to fund private jet trips. He believes unemployment benefits make people lazy. And so on.

Related: Yesterday, on a 67–31 vote, the U.S. Senate passed a bill loosening financial regulations passed after the economic crisis a decade ago. While the bill leaves key aspects of Dodd-Frank in place, it also loosens restrictions on local banks and credit unions.

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