WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has chosen Larry Kudlow to be his top economic aide, elevating the influence of a longtime fixture on the CNBC business news network who previously served in the Reagan administration and has emerged as a leading evangelist for tax cuts and a smaller government.
Kudlow told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has accepted the offer, saying the U.S. economy is poised to take off after Trump signed $1.5 trillion worth of tax cuts into law.
"The economy is starting to roar and we're going to get more of that," he said.
Kudlow will join an administration in the middle of a tumultuous remodeling as a wave of White House staffers and top officials have departed in recent weeks. Trump on Tuesday dumped his secretary of state, former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
The famously pinstripe-suited Kudlow would succeed Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who is leaving the post in a dispute over Trump's decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
With Trump's tax cuts already being implemented, Kudlow would be advising a president who appears increasingly determined to tax foreign imports — a policy Kudlow personally opposes. Kudlow said he is "in accord" with Trump's agenda and his team at the White House would help implement the policies set by the president.
Trump has promised to reduce the trade imbalance with China and rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Kudlow declined to say what advice he would give the president on trade issues, saying instead that Trump is "a very good negotiator."
Kudlow, 70, has informally advised the Trump administration in the past and he has spoken with the president "at some length in recent days," so he is ready "to hit the ground running."
Kudlow told CNBC on Wednesday that he will be going to Washington on Thursday to meet with Trump. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration is preparing for an orderly transition and "will keep everyone posted" on when Kudlow officially assumes the job.
Friends and colleagues say Kudlow possesses two critical attributes prized by the president: He is a bluntly spoken debater and is resolutely loyal.
"He's a very sensitive man and a very logical man, which is exactly what Trump needs," said Arthur Laffer, a well-known economist and longtime friend of Kudlow.
The two men and their wives used to celebrate New Year's Eve together outside San Diego, where Laffer lived at the time. In the Reagan administration, Kudlow worked in the White House budget office and Laffer served on an economic policy advisory board. Both built their economic visions around the notion that tax cuts are critical for maximizing economic growth, a principle at the heart of the $1.5 trillion tax reduction Trump signed into law late last year.
In 1987, Kudlow moved to Wall Street and, though he never completed a master's program in economics and policy at Princeton University, served as chief economist at Bear Stearns. He left that position in the early 1990s to treat an addiction to alcohol and drugs, after which he worked at Laffer's research and consulting firm.
Kudlow soon settled comfortably into the world of political and economic punditry, working at the conservative National Review magazine and ultimately becoming a host of CNBC shows beginning in 2001. He has remained a contributor to CNBC and a colleague and friend for many at the network. Indeed, among the first to report on Kudlow's possible move to the White House was Jim Cramer, the stock market guru and his former co-host on "Kudlow & Cramer." It was on CNBC that Kudlow gained a high-profile platform for explaining, defending and — at times — faulting Trump's economic agenda.