WASHINGTON — Larry Kudlow, the CNBC contributor and economist, has accepted President Trump’s offer to succeed Gary Cohn as the director of the National Economic Council.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed media reports that Kudlow was offered the job.
“We will work to have an orderly transition and will keep everyone posted on the timing of him officially assuming the
role,” Sanders said.
Kudlow appeared on CNBC on Wednesday and said that he got a call from Trump on Tuesday night, as he was getting into an Uber car. He said that he didn’t know that the news was out until Trump called him and told him it was on TV and that he looked “handsome.”
“I’m looking forward to serving the president,” he told CNBC. “The way I was brought up in the Reagan years, you talk it out and you argue it out, but once the president has made a decision, that’s it. My job is to execute. You don’t go through these endless bureaucratic things and delays. The National Economic Council is in some ways an information broker and i look forward to that role.”
Kudlow is regarded as a free-market economist who opposes tariffs, which would be a contrast to Trump’s decision last week to impose duties on steel and aluminum imports. But Kudlow is also a longtime TV personality, as host of a radio show and former host of a primetime show on CNBC. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist.
He served as an informal adviser to Trump during the presidential campaign, and during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, he served as associate director for economics and planning in the Office of Management and Budget.
Trump made little secret that Kudlow was in the running for the post.
“I’ve known him a long time,” Trump told reporters. “We don’t agree on everything, but in this case, I think that’s good. I want to have a divergent opinion. We agree on most.”
Trump also said that Kudlow “has come around to believing in tariffs as also a negotiating point. I’m renegotiating trade deals and without tariffs, we wouldn’t do nearly as well.” He said that Kudlow had a very “good chance” of being picked.
Cohn announced his resignation on March 6. He was said to disagree with Trump’s plans for tariffs, but he was also a champion of the administration’s push for tax reform.
Democratic groups quickly criticized Trump’s choice.
Andrew Bates, a spokesman for American Bridge, said that Trump was “doubling-down on an agenda that sells-out the American middle class in order to further help the richest taxpayers. He cited past statements Kudlow has made about Medicare and Social Security, the minimum wage and the gender pay gap, among other things.
“Kudlow will not deliver the economic changes Americans need as the deficit skyrockets and healthcare costs rise because of Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy,” he said. “His fringe beliefs are perfect for Trump but wrong for the country.”