“Don’t Class Warfare Me”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

What does Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow think about the collateral damage Trump's trade war is causing to businesses even in Republican districts?

Not much it appears.

Kudlow participated in an interview with Kai Ryssdal on the public radio program "Marketplace" in which he downplayed the impact Trump's trade war is having on real people.

And forgive the long quote, but Kudlow's obvious attempt to play dumb at the beginning of the interview feels relevant.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Ryssdal: We had a Republican congresswoman from Indiana on the program yesterday whose name is, her name is Jackie Walorski, she’s from the Indiana second and I said to her —

Kudlow: From the what?

Ryssdal: Indiana’s 2nd congressional district right. She’s a Republican, went heavily for the president in the election. She supports the idea of a new trade regime under this president. But I said to her tell me what your constituents are saying and this is Elkhart, Indiana right. They made RVs, they make all those things that depend on steel and she said people are coming to her saying “we want to know when it’s going to stop. When’s it gonna stop?”

Kudlow: It being?

Ryssdal: It the tariffs and the pain that is happening to American companies and consumers from these tariffs.

Kudlow: I think that, look I appreciate, I don’t happen to know this house member but you know I appreciate the concern, absolutely. But I will say so far the pain has been de minimis, really very little.

Ryssdal: Look, sir, really with all respect that’s easy for you to say sitting here on the second floor of the West Wing of the White House.

Kudlow: Now, don’t class warfare me [on] anything like that. I’m telling you quantitatively we follow this very closely because we are concerned about it. There is very little impact, almost unmeasurable impact on real GDP. OK? That’s a fact. It may be out there. I don’t want to predict U.S.-China relations on trade but I’m just saying, thus far, in GDP terms, it’s been nothing, unmeasurable.

"Look, don't class warfare me, but quantitatively the impact has been de minimis," the ancient cyborg said.

You don't see the phrase "class warfare" thrown around much anymore, but the GOP's tax cuts for the rich combined with a trade war that will make thousands of small businesses unprofitable while Trump is also making health care unaffordable for average people couldn't be called anything else. The nature of these policies is such that they'll seem vague at first but far more acute in the near future when the greater economy is not performing quite as well as it is now.

The increased costs of basic goods, the high cost of health care, and the lack of any real stimulus for average people will not feel "de minimis" when the next downturn arrives.

Kudlow comes from a background in television where you don't actually have to be right about anything to succeed. It's why he would respond to a question like this by saying "quantitatively," the impact has been "unmeasurable."

It's easily measurable by people who aren't executives or shareholders.

It occurs to me that we've nearly come full circle. Some people claimed they voted for Trump out of "economic anxiety" during a time when the economy was actually in better shape than it is now, but Trump may give them a real reason to be economically anxious. They had to vote for Trump to get a real version the nightmarish fantasy Obama they were sold.

  • muselet

    First, I didn’t realize class warfare could be used as a verb phrase. I learn something new every damn’ day.

    Second, Kai Ryssdal’s question had to do with companies and consumers, not the GDP. Larry Kudlow was being deliberately nonresponsive, presumably because it’s easier to handwave away the impact of a policy if you don’t have to deal with the messiness inherent to humans.

    Third, where’s a meteor when you really need one?


  • Aynwrong

    “They had to vote for Trump to get a real version of the nightmarish fantasy Obama they were sold.”

    Projection seems to key to understanding to the alleged philosophy known as conservatism.

  • Username1016

    Isn’t Kudlow the guy that Paul Krugman says has never been right about anything, ever?

    • David Greenberg

      That might be Paul Ryan.

      • Aynwrong

        Or Newt Gingrich.

    • gescove

      Kudlow is a high priest in the Temple of Trickle Down and an altar boy for Art Laffer of the Laffer Curve. When you’re so very wrong about the fundamentals, it’s tough to be right about anything else.