I was pleased when Larry Kudlow was picked as head of the CEA.  I don’t agree with him on everything, but his heart is in the right place.  Unlike Trump, he’s a strong advocate of free markets.  Thus I was quite disappointed by this:

Kudlow added that the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers usually gets the jobs numbers late in the afternoon or the evening before jobs Friday. He then shares them with the NEC director, who decides whether to forward them to the president.

“His tweet basically said, like everybody else, we wait [sic] the jobs report,” Kudlow said. “You can read into that 10 different things if you want to read into it … I don’t think he gave anything away.”

That’s just absurd, as even many of Trump’s defenders admit.  (Most of Trump’s defenders argue there was no harm in the information coming out early.)

Unfortunately, government officials are almost forced into making these sorts of statements.  This is what happens when a good man like Larry Kudlow is put in a difficult position.  It’s also the likely reason that Gary Cohn left the Trump administration.

One thing that advisors can do is try to prevent the president from making a fool of himself, by controlling the information that he has access to.  Sometimes that’s impossible, as Trump watches a lot of Fox News.  Recall their recent (misleading) photo supposedly showing a Philadelphia Eagles player kneeling during the national anthem, which may have influenced Trump’s decision to disinvite the team to the White House.  But in other cases this sort of control is more effective, as when Gary Cohn denied sensitive information to Trump, knowing that he could not be trusted to keep it secret:

The former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn kept the monthly jobs report away from President Donald Trump, worried he would be compelled to comment on them early, Politico’s Ben White and Aubree Eliza Weaver reported Monday.

As far as the “no harm, no foul” claim, consider this:

Current NEC Director Larry Kudlow followed the usual protocol in calling Trump on Air Force One on Thursday and gave him Friday’s figures. Kudlow did nothing wrong here. But Trump did, even if it wasn’t a direct disclosure of the numbers.

He’s now created a scenario in which traders will be looking for Trump tweets each jobs Friday. Does no tweet mean a bad number is coming? He’s inserted a new variable where none should exist.

And he’s raised the question of whether he’s dishing on the numbers in his regular late night calls to friends from the White House. And if he is, what are those friends doing with the numbers?

Must be nice to be one of Trump’s friends.  I wish I got late night calls from a man with sensitive market information, who is unable to keep his mouth shut.

PS.  I always wondered why so many anti-Trump pundits suddenly switched to support for Trump during 2016.  Now I know:

One high-profile Salem talker did a dramatic about-face on Trump in June 2016 after being schooled by Salem management. Hugh Hewitt said on his radio show on June 8, 2016 that the GOP had to dump Trump at the convention, arguing: “It’s like ignoring stage-four cancer. You can’t do it, you gotta go attack it.” But within a week, on June 15, Hewitt had penned a pro-Trump op-ed in the Washington Post, saying: “For the good of the country, Republicans have to be clear about the binary choice in front of us [and] close ranks around Trump.” What on Earth just happened? people wondered. Hewitt says he changed his mind independently, but emails from a Salem executive boasted that the CEO had written Hewitt and Michael Medved with “a very well stated case for supporting the GOP nominee because we have to beat Hillary.” After Hewitt’s op-ed appeared, the executive quoted Salem’s CEO as saying: “Wow he took a lot from my email to him and turned it into an article.”

Medved, for his part, didn’t take the hint. And he suffered for it, said CNN: “Medved’s time slot in several major markets—including Washington D.C., Dallas and Chicago—was changed from the prime afternoon hours to the late evening.”

Personally, I’d rather quit my job.

PPS.  I avoid blogging on the Russia collusion story, mostly because I find it boring.  Why is it even being debated, given that the collusion was completely open and public?  This is what it’s like living in a banana republic.  If the president says the sky is green, his supporters fall right into line.

PPPS.  The official policy of the US government is that there is only one China, and Taiwan is a part of China.  Given this official Trump administration policy, this demand takes a lot of chutzpah.



7 Responses to “Babysitting”

  1. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    5. June 2018 at 20:58

    We know Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort are all guilty of conspiracy to collude, and Trump Jr.’s publicly admitted it.

  2. Gravatar of BC BC
    5. June 2018 at 22:50

    Scott, you mistakenly stated the *Chinese* government’s version of the the One China Policy. The US version is that the status of Taiwan remains unsettled: “A July 2007 Congressional Research Service Report confirmed that U.S. policy has not recognized the PRC’s sovereignty over Taiwan” [].

    What takes a lot of chutzpah is for the Chinese government to think that it can censor American people and firms outside of China. It’s bad enough that it censors its own people in China. The Chinese government should not try to dictate how Americans refer to Taiwan. It also should stop trying to dictate which Taiwanese officials we let into the US and which officials our officials meet with. China doesn’t get to run US foreign policy.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    6. June 2018 at 08:22

    Mike, But I’m sure Donald had no knowledge of any of this.

    BC, I agree that there is a disagreement about Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan, but not about there being one China. Even the Taiwan constitution recognizes only one China, it’s not a controversial claim. There is no reasonable objection to the phrase Taiwan, China.

  4. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    6. June 2018 at 09:56

    I agree with a lot of your thoughts on Trump.

    That being said he’s been surprisingly effective. The economy has broken out of its moderate growth Obama period into a bit hotter economy. He’s had a small bit to play in that; though maybe it was coming regardless.

    It seems to me he’s on path to denuclearize North Korea. That is a modest positive.

    I also believe he is hilarious. Even if unconventional and unbecoming of the POTUS; he makes me laugh

    Also I do not believe he is intelligent enough to try and do something big and disastrous like Obamacare or the Iraq War. He’s fairly satisfied with having a ton of twitter followers.

  5. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    7. June 2018 at 09:34

    Regarding the NFL, Trump was humiliated by it in the 1980s and was blacklisted from ever owning a team. What are the chances that the toddler in chief still carries a grudge and wants to get even?

  6. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    7. June 2018 at 09:43


    Entertainers such as Trump, Colin Kaepernick, Lena Dunham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Stormy Daniels, Sean Hannity, Jordan Peterson, Kathy Griffin and Chuckles the Clown are experts at amusing people in their spare time, as are all porn stars, pundits, preachers, artists, actors and athletes. To give them any power beyond that is a mark of society’s stupidity.

  7. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. June 2018 at 11:36

    Sean, You said:

    “That being said he’s been surprisingly effective. The economy has broken out of its moderate growth Obama period into a bit hotter economy. He’s had a small bit to play in that; though maybe it was coming regardless.”

    Yes, just as it broke out in 2014. What role did Obama have in that breakout?

    “It seems to me he’s on path to denuclearize North Korea.”

    Is that a joke?

    And how about Iran?

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