In political circles, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol is known for a few things. He was former Vice President Dan Quayle’s chief of staff; he’s one of the more influential Republicans in the D.C. media; he’s a notable critic of Donald Trump; and he has an unfortunate habit of making predictions that don’t come true.
Larry Kudlow is similar, except instead of always being wrong about political developments, Kudlow is always wrong about the economy. And while that’s an unfortunate track record for someone who pontificates about the economy on television – Kudlow is a longtime CNBC anchor – it’s an even worse trait for someone who leads the White House’s National Economic Council.
And yet, that’s the job Donald Trump tapped Kudlow for this week.
It was the eve of the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression. Many on Wall Street worried that a recession loomed and that the housing bubble was bursting.
And then there was Larry Kudlow, the man President Trump just tapped to be his top economic adviser.
“Despite all the doom and gloom from the economic pessimistas, the resilient U.S. economy continues moving ahead,” Kudlow wrote on Dec. 7, 2007, in National Review, predicting that gloomy forecasters would “wind up with egg on their faces.” Kudlow, who previously derided as “bubbleheads” those who warned about a housing bubble, now wrote that “very positive” news in housing should “cushion” falling home sales and prices.
That was in December 2007 – the exact month the Great Recession began – and the global economy entered a crushing free-fall not long after.
“Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, they say,” Milbank added. “But Kudlow’s misfires just keep coming.”
The point, however, isn’t to point and laugh. Rather, what matters here is Kudlow’s track record and its relationship to his new responsibilities.
When Kudlow begins his formal role on Team Trump – he’s already been an informal adviser to the Republican – he’ll be the top voice on the economy in the White House. The president will turn to him regularly for guidance, advice, and expertise, not only on the health of the economy, but also about the kind of policies the administration should pursue in the near future.
Fortunately, right now, the economy appears to be quite healthy, but if there’s a downturn, would Kudlow recognize the signs? Would he give Trump honest assessments about the efficacy of Republican policies?
Or would Kudlow maintain his uninterrupted record of answering these questions the wrong way?