Conservative TV business news personality Larry Kudlow is generally a booster of President Donald Trump’s economic policies — and a man who does not mince words.
The White House on Wednesday confirmed media reports that Kudlow would replace Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs president who stepped down last week as Trump’s top economic advisor following an internal battle over trade tariffs.
Kudlow, 70, said Wednesday on live television he too initially opposed blanket tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which the White House announced last week and which have drawn rebukes from Republican lawmakers and sent global stocks reeling.
Instead, Kudlow told CNBC, where he has long been a commentator and host, that he would have preferred to see a “coalition” of major US trade partners confront China to let the world’s second-largest economy know “they are breaking the rules left and right.”
He said was relieved the Trump administration had agreed to make some exceptions for important US trading partners.
Trump had said earlier on Tuesday that he admired Kudlow but that the two did not agree on all points.
Kudlow will replace Cohn as head of the National Economic Council, a policy body created in 1993 that includes senior officials and experts from across an array of policy areas.
He had once already been in the running for NEC director following Trump’s election in November 2016 but the president ultimately chose an investment banker with deep Wall Street experience.
Kudlow may be a trained economist and historian but he represents a departure from the scholarly types normally chosen for the role. He is better known as a TV pundit, having spent 25 years on CNBC.
– A second act? –
His bullish pro-trade ways and comical manner made him a familiar face on the financial news network.
Still, in 2007, just as the US housing bubble was about to burst, he reassured his audience that there would be no recession in the United States.
In the 1980s, he served as White House budget director under President Ronald Reagan and is still a champion of that era’s conservative, supply-side economics, which calls for cutting taxes to boost growth — an ideology the Trump administration has emphatically embraced.
In the private sector, he served as chief economist for the investment bank Bear Stearns from 1987 to 1994.
Two years ago, he supported Trump’s presidential campaign, in particular the pledges to renew American infrastructure and cut taxes, becoming an informal Trump adviser in the process.
Married three times, Kudlow has acknowledged undergoing treatment in the 1990s for alcohol and cocaine dependence. He is also a convert to Catholicism.
Kudlow has more than once flirted with running for US Senate from Connecticut but has decided against this.
Visibly moved on Wednesday, Kudlow thanked CNBC, which he said, “gave me a chance after my crash and burn.”
“With God’s grace, I’ll have 23 years clean and sober in the next couple of months,” Kudlow said.
“The president and other friends of mine said to me, you have been working 40 years for this. This is the job you wanted,” he said. “I said, yes, sir, it is.”