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Trump taps former Reagan administration member Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn

US conservative commentator and economic analyst Larry Kudlow, speaking on the set of CNBC, will be named as President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images)

Economist and CNBC Senior Contributor Larry Kudlow will be named as President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser.  Kudlow previously served during Ronald Reagan’s presidency as an economic analyst at the Office of Management and Budget.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed on Wednesday that Kudlow will replace Gary Cohn.

"Larry Kudlow was offered, and accepted, the position of assistant to the President for Economic Policy and director of the National Economic Council," Sanders said. "We will work to have an orderly transition and will keep everyone posted on the timing of him officially assuming the role."

Cohn announced on March 6 that he would be resigning as head of the White House National Economic Council. Just before his departure, Cohn had advised President Trump against imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum. Trump announced on March 1 that he would be implementing the tariffs.

Consequently, Kudlow has also spoken out against tariffs. On March 1, he tweeted out a link to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece titled, “Trump’s Tariff Folly,” without any further comment. In an piece he wrote with Arthur Laffer of Laffer Associates and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation, Kudlow slammed Trump’s tariffs as “really tax hikes.”

Kudlow and his co-writers argued that the tariffs would hurt American jobs, not help them:

“But even if tariffs save every one of the 140,000 or so steel jobs in America, it puts at risk five million manufacturing and related jobs in industries that use steel. These producers now have to compete in hyper-competitive international markets using steel that is 20 percent above the world price and aluminum that is 7 percent to 10 percent above the price paid by our foreign rivals.”

The piece continued by expressing doubt about the rationale behind the tariff:

“We aren’t persuaded by the Trump administration’s claim that we need to impose these tariffs for national security reasons. Despite stiff competition from imports, many specialty steel producers are doing just fine and actually exporting steel to Mexico and Canada. Meanwhile, Canada is the No. 1 exporter of steel to the United States. Does anyone really believe Canada is a national security threat to the United States?”

Despite all of this, Trump said Tuesday that he thinks that Kudlow has "come around to believing in tariffs as a negotiating point." CNN reports that Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, was “very happy” about Kudlow being named for the job. Navarro was seen as being influential in Cohn leaving.

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