Trump considers media personality Larry Kudlow to be top White House economist

Monday , March 12, 2018 - 1:55 PM

Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey

(c) 2018, The Washington Post.

Media personality Larry Kudlow, a loquacious and energetic advocate of low taxes and free trade, has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Gary Cohn as director of the White House’s National Economic Council, two people briefed on the process said.

Kudlow was an adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign, working closely with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the design of an initial tax plan. But Kudlow, in media appearances in the past month, has been critical of President Trump’s new plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, opposition that for other candidates might be disqualifying.

Still, Trump’s close relationship with Kudlow - and Kudlow’s experience speaking on television - have bolstered his candidacy for the job. He worked in the Reagan White House, but has spent much of his time in recent years working in the media, for CNBC and others.

The two people briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to reveal internal deliberations. One cautioned a final decision had not been reached.

Some advisers have also told Trump to consider Christopher Liddell for the post. Liddell is the former chief financial officer of General Motors, Microsoft, and International Paper. He has been at the White House since last year, but he hasn’t left a distinct impression on economic policy, an area that Cohn and Mnuchin have mostly dominated.

Cohn announced last week he would be leaving the NEC. Cohn’s influence within the West Wing had waned, as Trump had recently decided to adopt a protectionist trade policy that infuriated the former Goldman Sachs president.

Cohn made numerous media appearances while running the NEC, but also ran a detailed staff process that aimed to elevate - and, at times, squash - certain parts of Trump’s economic agenda. It is unclear if Trump wants his next NEC director to advance an ambitious agenda or spend more time with the media defending the changes that have already taken place, such as tax cuts and efforts to roll back regulations.


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