Washington – Larry Kudlow, who lives in Redding, said he had just finished playing tennis Sunday when he received a phone call from President Donald Trump.
“I thought he was going to bawl me out because he knew I had a problem with across-the-board tariffs,” Kudlow, an economic analyst, said on CNBC. Days earlier Trump had announced new 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, respectively.
But Trump did not call to chastise Kudlow. He called to begin the process of assigning him to lead his National Economic Council. Kudlow said he had a number of 30- or 40-minute phone calls with the president before the deal was finalized.
“I’m honored to take the job,” Kudlow said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders issued a brief statement on the appointment.
“Larry Kudlow was offered, and accepted, the position of Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council. We will work to have an orderly transition and will keep everyone posted on the timing of him officially assuming the role,” she said.
Kudlow’s predecessor, Gary Cohn, quit the job after several disagreements with Trump, the latest over the tariffs, and there are some who say Kudlow does not realize how tough it will be to work in the White House.
Kudlow, 70, worked in an administration before as Ronald Reagan’s associate director for economics and planning at the Office of Management and Budget.
Before joining the business news cable channel CNBC, Kudlow was chief economist at investment bank Bear Stearns & Co. He has no formal education as an economist but is venerated among conservatives who support “supply-side” economics.
Kudlow’s official title will be director of the National Economic Council, a post that does not require Senate confirmation.
Kudlow says he has a long friendship with Trump and has worked for him before, as an adviser to the Trump campaign.
“He asks questions and he asks good questions,” Kudlow said.
He also said he’s ready to disagree with the president when necessary.
“I don’t like blanket tariffs, and I don’t think you should punish your friends to try and punish your enemies in international affairs,” he said.
But David Stockman, former OMB director in the Reagan administration and Kudlow’s former boss, said Kudlow will find it difficult to change Trump’s mind, especially on trade issues.
“He’s an incorrigible, lifelong, rabid protectionist … and he’s not going to listen to anyone, including Larry,” Stockman said of Trump on CNBC.
Stockman also said Kudlow would not be able to grapple with the “huge, roaring deficit that’s coming down the track” because of the federal tax plan and other Trump policies. He said Kudlow will “tell Trump what he wants to hear, and that is we can grow our way out.”
“Now that’s not going to happen, and he’s going to help Trump sleepwalk right into a tremendous fiscal collision,” Stockman said.
Kudlow considered challenging Sen. Richard Blumenthal in 2016, but decided he liked being a radio and television broadcaster much more than being a politician.
“ I love it. I love it so much I don’t want to give it up.” Kudlow said at the time.
But he also said he would consider a job in a Republican administration
“I don’t want to open or shut any doors,” Kudlow said.