President Donald Trump did not waste much time replacing Gary Cohn as his chief economic adviser. This week, he went back to the man who served as an informal adviser on the 2016 campaign – CNBC economic star Larry Kudlow. According to reports, Trump offered Kudlow the position on the phone Tuesday night before making the announcement official later in the week.
“Larry Kudlow was offered, and accepted, the position of assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “We will work to have an orderly transition and will keep everyone posted on the timing of him officially assuming the role.”
While Kudlow is undoubtedly closer to the bones of the Trump agenda than was Cohn, this selection does not necessarily erase the disagreement believed to be responsible for the latter’s exit. Kudlow has been wildly supportive of the president’s overall economic direction, but he too has been critical of the proposal to levy steel and aluminum tariffs. In an op-ed for CNBC just a couple of weeks ago, the cable news analyst said that Trump would be wise to walk back the plan.
“In other words, steel and aluminum may win in the short term, but steel and aluminum users and consumers will lose,” Kudlow wrote. “In fact, tariff hikes are really tax hikes.”
Talking about the potential of hiring Kudlow on Tuesday, however, Trump said he was open to having a “divergent opinion” in the White House. He also indicated that Kudlow was coming around to his way of thinking on the tariffs.
In a sign of party unity, congressional Republicans applauded the choice, telling reporters that they welcomed Kudlow’s expertise. “Couldn’t be more pleased,” said Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole. “He is somebody that House Republicans are extraordinarily comfortable with.”
You can take that apply it to economic conservatives in general; certainly, Kudlow is more to the taste of that set than Cohn, who made his bones as a Democrat. Kudlow has proven his mettle through years of public policy prescriptions, and he has never varied from the pro-growth, low-tax philosophy that has long been a hallmark of the GOP (in theory, if not always in practice).
Perhaps even more importantly, Kudlow is in a much better position to sell these concepts to the American people than Cohn was. That’s what makes this a brilliant choice on the part of the president. If there’s anything the Republican Party has been lacking in recent years, it’s someone in a position of power who can actually explain these economic concepts to the average voter. Kudlow has years of experience doing just that.