Good god, we’re all doomed.
There has been much talk this week about the imminent threat of another recession, which could be exacerbated or prompted by the Trump administration’s trade policy with China.
As any administration would do in such a situation, the White House sent its top economic adviser to make the rounds of Sunday morning news shows to help ease the public’s anxiety. Unfortunately for us, in the Trump administration, that person is Larry Kudlow.
While Kudlow successfully made it through an uncharacteristically challenging (for him, at least) interview on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, during a second interview on Fox News Sunday, he was barely intelligible. I don’t know if he was drunk or what, but he sure as hell sounded like it.
Anyway, on Meet the Press, Todd let Kudlow get his main talking points across about how great things are before hammering him with Kudlow’s own words.
“Well, I tell you what, I sure don’t see a recession, Kudlow said, praising some “really blockbuster numbers.”
“We’re doing pretty darn well, in my judgment. Let’s not be afraid of optimism,” he added, using what he probably thought was a pretty clever catchphrase. (He repeated the line about optimism several times on Fox News.)
“I admire your optimism,” Todd replied, “but the data is pointing in another direction.”
Todd then pointed out that Kudlow had said the same thing in 2007, just ahead of the second-worst economic downturn in modern history, which the Obama administration was forced to deal with, eventually turning it around.
“There’s no recession coming,” Kudlow had said in 2007, just before the crash. “The pessimistas were wrong. It’s not going to happen…The Bush boom is alive and well.”
Kudlow’s response to being confronted with this was, “I plead guilty to that late 2007 forecast.” But others had said it, too, he added in his defense.
“This is not then. Our banks are well-capitalized, our financial system’s in very good shape. And I must say as the president is transforming and rebuilding this economy, he deserves enormous credit,” Kudlow said on Sunday. “[There is] a new policy of lower taxes and regulation and energy opening and trade reform.”
Kudlow said it was “a miracle” that “we were able to continue as well as we’re doing,” due to the Fed’s monetary policy during the first two years of Trump’s term.
But Todd hit Kudlow with more of the adviser’s own words, this time from 2018, just before Kudlow went to work at the White House.
“Tariffs are really tax hikes,” Kudlow wrote with coauthors last year in the National Review. Hmmm...
China is a “very special case” Kudlow argued in response, defending Trump’s threat of placing 10% tariffs on some $300 billion in Chinese goods. “We cannot let China pursue these unfair and unreciprocal trading practices,” he added. “This is the presidential mission.” Unreciprocal. Hmmm....
Negotiations are ongoing, he said, and a visit to the U.S. by a China trade delegation could happen soon. But Kudlow was unable to fully answer Todd’s question about what the U.S. would get out of a trade dispute with China. Other than a recession, of course.
“How this turns out, I don’t know. It’s up to the president to judge the progress or lack thereof,” Kudlow said. “Our tariff policy is working.”
So, why don’t I feel better about all of this?
Watch Kudlow’s intelligible interview here:
And the unintelligible one here: