The White House confirmed cable news commentator and former Reagan White House aide Larry Kudlow will replace Gary Cohn as the president’s chief economic adviser. But it’s not clear the relationship will be a smooth one.
“Larry Kudlow was offered, and accepted, the position of assistant to the president for economic policy and director of the National Economic Council. We will work to have an orderly transition and will keep everyone posted on the timing of him officially assuming the role,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Kudlow will replace the departing Cohn, who resigned recently after a clash with Trump over his steel and aluminum tariffs.
Kudlow was an economic adviser for another GOP president, Ronald Reagan, before going on to become one of CNBC’s top hosts and commentators. Trump is a big cable news viewer.
Notably, however, Kudlow also has publicly opposed the import fees and warned they could start a trade war and hurt the U.S. economy.
But on Tuesday, the president contended Kudlow has had a change of heart on the matter — even though Republican orthodoxy long has been anti-tariffs.
“He now has come around to believing in tariffs as also a negotiation point,” Trump said as he departed the White House. “I think Larry Kudlow has a good chance.”
The two spoke later Tuesday as Trump flew aboard Air Force One to California.
“The president thinks very highly of Larry Kudlow,” spokesman Raj Shah told reporters Wednesday on the executive jet.
“They had a great conversation on the phone yesterday,” said Shah, according to a pool report. “Many people do want the job of director of the NEC.”
Kudlow is regarded as a so-called “supply side” economic thinker who favors tax cuts as fueling economic growth. The president agrees. Kudlow also is a deficit hawk. So far, however, the president has not put forth policy ideas or supported ones that would trim the federal debt.
That could become an area of disagreement between them — and Trump is signaling he could soon purge the West Wing of advisers who have disagreed with him too often.
“We’re really at a point where we’re getting very close,” the president said as he nears 15 months in office, “to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.”
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