One would think that conservative economist Larry Kudlow, who has often panned tariffs and trade wars in the past, would be advising his boss that going after China with huge tariffs will not yield the desired results. As the Director of the National Economic Council and a man with a direct line to the President, Kudlow should be granting his wisdom to a President bent on making bad economic choices.
Instead, Kudlow is doing everything to defend an action that he knows will be detrimental.
“The president has suggested tariffs on a couple $100 billion” in Chinese goods, Kudlow said. “He has not been satisfied with the talks with China on this. I think the basic stories are more or less correct. My guess is that an announcement will be coming soon.”
“The tariffs story may be a very good force for good,” Kudlow told CNBC. “Don’t rule that out.”
“People want to blame President Trump for fixing a broken system, and I think that’s unfair,” said Kudlow, a former CNBC host.
His wording is very careful. Notice that he never says the tariffs will be good, but the tariff story itself may have positive effects. This is, to some extent, true. In the short term it sparks the type of nationalism the President needs to push forward his agenda. It also allows him to remain consistent on his push for tariffs; in an election year, consistency is important.
What Kudlow truly believes but is unwilling to say is that these tariffs will place a burden on American companies and consumers that will have major long term effects. He is careful with his wording because he does not want to be quoted as agreeing with the tariffs but is simultaneously unwilling to speak out publicly about the President’s policies.
Perhaps behind the scenes he’s working on Trump, but it doesn’t appear to be having an effect. The leftist notion of fair trade has permeated across the GOP and is corrupting sound economic advisers like Kudlow. By defending the actions, Kudlow has become a tariff apologist.