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Larry Kudlow: TV pundit to replace Gary Cohn as Trump’s top economic adviser

Conservative commentator was chosen from a shortlist of just one candidate for one of the most powerful posts in the administration

Out with the Goldman Sachs banker and in with the TV show anchor. On Wednesday Donald Trump was preparing to announce that CNBC host and conservative commentator Larry Kudlow would replace Gary Cohn as director of the White Houses National Economic Council.

Kudlow, 70, best known as a CNBC commentator and outspoken proponent of free trade and low taxes, is in many ways a contradictory fit with Trumps America First agenda.

But Kudlow, according to White House advisers, was chosen from a shortlist of just one candidate for one of the most powerful economic posts in the administration. The official announcement could come as early as tomorrow, according to CNBC, his employer.

The 70-year-old certainly brings some Trump-supporting chops. He helped to shape Trumps economic policy platform during the 2016 campaign and later worked with the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, on an overhaul of tax codes. He has reportedly also helped shape economic policy over the past year.

A veteran of the Reagan administration, Kudlow worked in the White House budget office. Despite never completing the masters program in economics and policy at Princeton University, he later moved to Wall Street and served as chief economist at Bear Stearns.

A committed proponent of tax cuts as an engine of broad economic growth, Kudlow defended Trumps own tax cuts when they ran into resistance, from Republicans and Democrats, over the higher budget deficits they will probably bring.

But the financial news TV star has not been above criticizing the presidents economic positions, including the recent threat to impose import tariffs on aluminium and steel.

Trump should also examine the historical record on tariffs, because they have almost never worked as intended and almost always deliver an unhappy ending, Kudlow wrote in a National Review column Tariffs Are Taxes penned with co-authors Stephen Moore and Arthur Laffer on 3 March.

The authors continued: We arent persuaded by the Trump administrations claim that we need to impose these tariffs for national-security reasons. Despite stiff competition from imports, many specialty steel producers are doing just fine, and are actually exporting steel to Mexico and Canada.

But Kudlow later said his worries had been assuaged, telling New Yorks AM 970 the tariffs [were] basically gone with the exception of maybe China and a few countries.

I guarantee you, all of Europe is going to wind up being exempt. And I bet you our allies in Asia will wind up being exempt. China may be the only one, Kudlow continued.

He reasoned that the tariff proposals are a Trumpian way of negotiating. You knock them in the teeth and get their attention, and then you kind of work out a deal, Kudlow said. Thats what hes done. My hats off to him. He had me really worried, now Im not.

Kudlow, who is from New Jersey, also shares personal aspects of Trumps life experience. Trump lost his brother to alcoholism; in the mid-1990s, Kudlow entered a 12-step program to combat an addiction to cocaine and alcohol.

Kudlow told Crisis magazine that in 1995 the roof fell down on my life.

I had another bad relapse. I lost my jobs and my life in the spring of 1995. My wife sent me away to the Hazelden Treatment Center in Minnesota. I was there for five months.

He was helped by the economist and Opus Dei evangelist Father John McCloskey, who also guided Newt Gingrich and Sam Brownback in their conversions to Catholicism.

McCloskey recalled that Kudlow had faced a dilemma. Success comes easy and in a big way for some people in our affluent, celebrity-conscious culture. And what do you do then, when the bottom falls out in a way from which nothing up to that time has prepared you? McCloskey wrote in Good News, Bad News his 2011 account of the conversions he has overseen.

By late 1997 Kudlow was ready to be baptized, surrounded by friends from the conservative magazine National Review. He returned to work and to his marriage and came to see his recovery from alcoholism and cocaine as part of Christs redemption.

I knew somehow that first of all, Christ wanted me to recover, and secondly, Christ would stand with me.

All of this is Gods handiwork, Kudlow said. I have learned to live a life of faith I pray and meditate every single day, every morning. You know I pray in cabs. I pray in airplanes. I dont really pray for anything I just pray that Jesus will give me the strength to follow him.

He will need all that strength as he enters the White House. Tenures for Trump appointees have become increasingly brief as Trump tolerance for dissension has shortened.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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