Where are Trump’s free market voices?
The president-elect needs a strong voice at the Council of Economic Advisers
Donald Trump’s Cabinet selections so far have been good — principled conservatives like Dr. Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Rep. Tom Price, a physician, who will head the Department of Health and Human Services. They have real-life practical experience with solid credentials, and no apologies. This is not the usual assemblage of lawyers, lobbyists, political insiders and million-dollar donors.
But departures from the script in Cabinet nominees are crucial on the all-important economics front. The two chief economic picks so far — Steven Mnuchin at Treasury and Gary Cohn to head the White House National Economic Council — are both Goldman Sachs executives with no policy pedigree and no evidence of devotion to the free market.
The last CEO from Goldman Sachs to score a high-ranking Cabinet post was Hank Paulson, appointed by George W. Bush. He turned out to be one of the most disappointing Treasury secretaries ever. He was asleep at the beginning of the housing crisis and he was the author of the disastrous bank bailouts, known as TARP. Would Messrs. Mnuchin or Cohn have done anything different? Probably not.
Larry Kudlow, who was an economist with Ronald Reagan, is a favorite of the Great Mentioner in the running to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. He has been a economics commentator at CNBC and — full disclosure alert — a frequent contributor to these pages. Mr. Trump should run to Larry Kudlow and offer him the job. The Donald needs him as his administration’s free-market conscience and spokesman for the cause.
Messrs. Kudlow and Stephen Moore helped craft the Trump fiscal and tax plans in the summer. Mr. Kudlow has close ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan and most of the key committee members of Congress who will determine the fate of the Trump economic program. He could be the man carry the tax cut over the goal line.
Mr. Kudlow is a commanding voice for free trade. He has said he agrees with some of Mr. Trump’s trade policy twists, such as getting tough with China, but wants to steer the new administration away from tariffs and trade walls. That voice of economic reason will be needed within the Trump Cabinet. The other contender for CEA is economist Peter Navarro, who appeals to many of Mr. Trump’s protectionist instincts.
The president-elect needs the Kudlow knowledge and skill if he rejuvenates the American economy. Conservatives would loudly applaud this pick. The Kudlow economic creed is “free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity.” There’s no better creed to embrace, nor better messenger to bring it into the Trump Cabinet.