Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
CNBC pundit Laurence “Larry” Kudlow is rumored to be on president-elect Donald Trump’s short list to chair the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), the most influential economic council in the world, the Washington Post and other outlets are reporting. While Forbes and the Wall Street Journal cheer the pick, and the Washington Post questions his credentials for the job, few are talking about his association with Club for Growth, an active agent in the radicalization of the Republican Party at the federal and state level.
Kudlow was a founder of the Club, and has been a member its leadership council. The Club is unique in that it spends more of its money either intimidating or removing Republicans from office who aren’t extreme enough in their views, and installing extremists in their place. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, and dozens of other Tea Party/Freedom Caucus politicians owe their seats to this well-funded political puppeteer.
In fact, the Club has been instrumental in creating the conditions that led to a new political verb: Primaried. They hunt moderate and so-called “RINO” (Republican in Name Only) incumbent Republicans. Either tow the line of the Club’s anti-union, anti-women, anti-government agenda, or they will run, or threaten to run, a well financed Tea Party/Freedom Caucus candidate against the incumbent.
Dick Lugar was one of the Club’s biggest RINOs bagged to date. It threatened their support of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during his last election bid to obtain his cooperation in the extremist move of shutting down the government which cost the taxpayers more than $28B dollars.
“We think that votes have to have consequences,” and the Club for Growth’s enormous fundraising capacity to finance insurgent conservative candidates in Republican Party primaries “can be the consequences,” Mr. Chocola, the former leader of the Club, told The Washington Times. While he departed in 2014, the Club’s objectives have not changed, nor has Kudlow’s relationship to the organization.
Kudlow began the 2015 primary season working with the conventional Republican candidates. In addition to the Club, he, Steve Forbes, and economist Arthur Laffer, Godfather of Reaganomics’ trickle-down theory, started another 501(c)(4) called the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, a Reagan redux of failed supply-side economics backstopped by hedge funders, self-dealing billionaires, and conservative economic toadies whose goals are, not surprisingly, more trickle-down economic theory.
Normally, the Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisors has an economics degree. Kudlow does not. All of the CEA chairpeople have previously had some history of writing top scholarly works in economics. Kudlow has not. His only real calling card is that he is a pundit for NBC’s CNBC and a contributor to the conservative National Review.
Kudlow does not disclose his associations with the Club, or the Committee, in his work as a commentator in his official CNBC bio or at National Review. It is a bias and a notable organizational interest coloring his judgments, though, that should be available via the official websites for complete transparency, a problem with which Media Matters has taken on CNBC for allowing such a large journalistic lapse..
Neither Comcast corporation nor the National Review has fired Kudlow for actively working with the Club, his other PAC, or advising Trump since late 2015, and failing to disclose it to their audiences. By contrast, Keith Olbermann was fired by the NBC News division in 2011 for failing to report writing three donation checks to candidates.
Kudlow’s views are decidedly anachronistic, anti-union, staunchly anti-abortion, and he talks a toxic brew of supply-side economics, and deep tax cuts for the wealthy, lauding the Bush Administration’s lax Wall Street regulatory policies that led to the fast and furious derivatives shell game which caused the melt-down of the economy in 2008. His CPAC performance where he shamed low-income single parents with “welfare is not a substitute for marriage [and] child-rearing” shows him to be completely out of touch with the plight of millions of Americans impacted by the move of higher paying jobs to more technical skillsets requiring higher degrees that leave too many people in the service industries making sub-mininum wage.
As the head of the President’s economic council, Kudlow looks to be a certain disaster. The economists who advise the President have typically not been partisan hacks. They study the economic indicators and make measured responses, usually erring on the conservative side of an opinion rendered.
Not Kudlow. Aware of the ridiculous rises in interest rates that Trump’s proposed fiscal policies will have, he has pounced upon, and been cheerleading via his CNBC-sanctioned pulpit, a concept that Future Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin floated to issue 50 year and 100 year maturity Treasury bonds. It’s a logical play to tamp down anger over rising interest rates in “Trumpflation,” but long-term the issuance of these types of bonds in bad times at much higher rates could ultimately end up creating a debt from which the United States could be bound to for more than three generations, and, it might undermine the sale of needed short-term treasuries to a world where foreign entities and governments hold nearly $6T of our debt.
Kudlow has been wrong so many times in his prognostications, including one amazing myopic National Review article trumpeting continued growth just days before the Great Recession broke at the end of the Bush Admininstration in 2007-2008.
Beyond that, though, are his deep connections into the bedrock of the radical right’s political influence system, which show no sign of ending.
Kudlow has been able to manipulate the media and the American political system from without. Letting him into the Council of Economic Advisors creates conflict of interest problems greater than Trump’s with even less accountability.
Should someone who influences economic opinion vital to the daily operation of the United States government also be able to influence the selection of the people in Congress who oversee him? Who will cross him in the House or Senate if they fear retribution from the Club for Growth?
If Trump won’t divest himself of his own political liabilities, why should any of his underlings? With that Kudlow’s position holding the Republican’s Sword of Damocles over their heads makes him a very powerful, and very dangerous man if brought into the Trump cabinet.