We Can Always Use Some Bitter, Cynical, Gallows Humor, So Here’s A Kudlow Post

Larry Kudlow is the pure distilled essence of a Trump appointment, the type specimen of the breed, and the perfect expression of the state of Republican “thinking” on not just economics, but any matter in which actual knowledge and a respect for empiricism might help.

Via Wikipedia, we find he is barely educated, at best, in the fields in which he now works:

Kudlow graduated from University of Rochester in Rochester, New York with a degree in history in 1969. Known as “Kuddles” to friends, he was a star on the tennis team and a member of the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society at Rochester.

In 1971, Kudlow attended Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he studied politics and economics. He left before completing his master’s degree.

I’ll admit that Kuddles is kinda cute, but an unfinished masters degree in a policy school is not one you’d usually associate with economics acumen.

He went on to a stellar business career, managing to get fired repeatedly for substance abuse on the job, including a claimed $10,000/month cocaine habit that got him canned from Bear Stearns in 1994. (It’s interesting to note that a frantic effort is underway today to diminish such inconvenient truths on Kudlow’s Wikipedia page.)

Fortunately for Kuddles, he cleans up well, dresses nicely, and can tok gud. So he was able to revive his career as a TV gasbag, with a series of appearances and then shows on CNBC, the network that figured out the markets could be covered like sports teams.

Unfortunately — for the rest of us, if not for the ever-failing-up Kudlow — he’s been wrong about almost every key economic call since Methuselah was in diapers.  He is a Laffer disciple, a supply-sider whose faith that there is no tax that is too low, no plutocrat whose needs must not be served, is impervious to any test of reality.

Consider this:

In 1993, when Bill Clinton proposed an increase in the top tax rate from 31 percent to 39.6 percent, Kudlow wrote, “There is no question that President Clinton’s across-the-board tax increases … will throw a wet blanket over the recovery and depress the economy’s long-run potential to grow.” This was wrong. Instead, a boom ensued. Rather than question his analysis, Kudlow switched to crediting the results to the great tax-cutter, Ronald Reagan. “The politician most responsible for laying the groundwork for this prosperous era is not Bill Clinton, but Ronald Reagan,” he argued in February, 2000.

And this:

Kudlow firmly denied that the United States would enter a recession in 2007, or that it was in the midst of a recession in early to mid-2008. In December 2007, he wrote: “The recession debate is over. It’s not gonna happen. Time to move on. At a bare minimum, we are looking at Goldilocks 2.0. (And that’s a minimum). The Bush boom is alive and well. It’s finishing up its sixth splendid year with many more years to come”. In May 2008 he wrote: “President George W. Bush may turn out to be the top economic forecaster in the country” in his “‘R’ is for ‘Right'”.

And this:

When Obama took office, Kudlow was detecting an “inflationary bubble.” That was wrong. He warned in 2009 that the administration “is waging war on investors. He’s waging war against businesses. He’s waging war against bondholders. These are very bad things.” That was also wrong, and when the recovery proceeded, by 2011, he credited the Bush tax cuts for the recovery. (Kudlow, April 2011: “March unemployment rate drop proof lower taxes work.”) By 2012, Kudlow found new grounds to test out his theories: Kansas, where he advisedRepublican governor Sam Brownback to implement a sweeping tax-cut plan that would produce faster growth. This was wrong. Alas, Brownback’s program has proven a comprehensive failure, falling short of all its promises and leaving the state in fiscal turmoil.

The reviews are coming in. Via the BBC:

David Stockman, Mr Kudlow’s former boss during the Reagan administration, told the Washington Post in 2016 that Mr Kudlow’s prediction that tax cuts would lead to growth was “dead wrong”. Instead, he said the cuts led to budget deficits.

More recently, he has warned that Mr Kudlow would not be able to rein in the president.

“As much as I love him … Larry’s voice is exactly the wrong voice that Donald Trump ought to be hearing as we go forward,” he told CNBC.

Liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been sharply critical, noting that Mr Kudlow missed signs of the housing bubble and recession.

“At least he’s reliable — that is, he’s reliably wrong about everything,” Mr Krugman tweeted.

Indeed in December 2007 – just as the recession was beginning – Mr Kudlow wrote in the National Review: “There’s no recession coming. The pessimistas were wrong. It’s not going to happen.”

It is interesting that Kudlow himself doesn’t seem to disagree with his predecessor on the issue that got Cohn out. From a quick take bylined by him, Laffer and Stephen Moore (another stellar, always-wrong econ public intellectual) here he is on Trump’s tariff announcement:

Tariffs are really tax hikes. Since so many of the things American consumers buy today are made of steel or aluminum, a 25 percent tariff on these commodities may get passed on to consumers at the cash register. This is a regressive tax on low-income families.

I wonder how that squares with the new job. ETA: I know how it squares. It’s already been forgotten. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

But that’s just SOP in the circles in which Kudlow travels:  intellectual rigor doesn’t actually matter.  He’s under no obligation to be consistent in any of his pronouncements, and he certainly doesn’t have to be right about anything as long as he provides cover for the true Republican (n.b.: not just Trumpian) policy goal: the transfer of more and more of our society’s wealth to those who are already wealthy — and hence, in the GOP/Rand/Sociopath view of the world, those who are virtuous enough to deserve such riches.

For all of you who’ve wondered why the US can’t be more like Kansas — we may now we get to find out.

Image: Thomas Shields Clarke, A Fool’s Fool,  c. 1887.

Great success

Big win in Pennsylvania. It proves, once again, that this is a right-center nation.

There are over one hundred Republican-held districts that are bluer than PA-18, let’s win them all. Give here to the Balloon Juice fund that is split equally among all eventual Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer

Late Night Schadenfreude Open Thread: For Whom No Violin Is Tiny Enough

A break from more weighty topics…


Also, Peter Thiel’s wannabe neighbors have a big sad about those lousy emigrant-excluding Kiwis. Per Bloomberg, “The Rich Aren’t Happy About New Zealand Foreign Bolthole Ban”:

Rich-listers like Californian billionaire Ric Kayne have issued a warning to New Zealand — banning house sales to foreigners could hurt the country’s reputation and turn wealthy investors away.

Kayne, who has built an exclusive golf course in New Zealand and wants to expand his investments, is one of several rich businessmen who claim the proposed new law will have unintended consequences. They’re seeking amendments to the draft legislation or its withdrawal in its current form…

The new Labour-led government came to power in October on a pledge to fix a housing crisis with a raft of measures, including a ban on foreign speculators buying residential property. While data suggest non-residents have only a minor impact on the wider housing market, support for the move was boosted by headlines about rich foreigners buying mansions and farms in New Zealand as boltholes away from the world’s ills.

House prices have surged more than 60 percent in the past decade amid record immigration and a construction shortfall. In biggest city Auckland, prices have almost doubled since 2007 to an average of more than NZ$1 million ($730,000). That’s made it more difficult for first-time buyers to enter the market and driven up rents, leaving increasing numbers of poor people homeless.

“It’s really important for us that we sort our housing market out, that we give New Zealanders a fair go at buying their first home,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a television interview Sunday. While the country welcomes foreign investment, “what we want is good-quality investment that supports the productivity of the New Zealand economy,” he said…

Kayne, who plans another golf course of similar quality that will be open to the public, said he will also be forced to sell the house he’s building for himself and wife Suzanne under the new restrictions.

Although he is a New Zealand resident, the legislation would not recognize him as one because it requires people to spend at least 183 days a year in the country — something his business interests prevent him from doing…

Yeah, it’s all about “optics” — but after the horrors that jet-setting parasites have inflicted on cities like London, New York, and San Francisco, I somehow doubt there will be many tears shed for the plight of thwarted golf-course developers and their ilk.

Whoa children

My wife and listen mostly to children’s music now. It’s a a little more interesting than I thought. We can deal with Raffi in limited doses and kind of like the children’s music the guy from POTUSA does. We also discovered a great children’s album done by Doc Watson (Songs For Little Pickers) though we think Tennessee Stud may not be appropriate for very little children (great song, though). We also think the Rockabye Baby lullabies have surprisingly tasteful arrangements.

What children’s music would you recommend?

I remember some of the songs from when I was a kid so well! John Henry and Erie Canal especially. It’s kind of neat to me that these songs go back so far.

And here’s a picture of the baby!

Let’s raise a little more money for the Balloon Juice fund that is split equally among all Democratic nominees in all House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer

You can’t blame the youth, you can’t fool the youth

So much bullshit about the uncivil far left kids the last few days from James Bennet’s troll farm. Something to remember: these kids will bury us, literally and figuratively.

Let’s raise a little more money for the Balloon Juice fund that is split equally among Democratic challengers in every House district currently held by a Republican.

Goal Thermometer

Russiagate Open Thread: Prince Parties with Putin’s Favorite Congressman

Just one targeted meteorite — is that too much to ask?

Prince and Rohrabacher have been friends and mutual supporters for years: Prince interned for the California congressman on Capitol Hill in 1990, and Rohrabacher vigorously defended Prince when Blackwater faced congressional scrutiny during President George W. Bush’s administration.

The fundraising event, slated for March 18 at Prince’s Middleburg, Virginia residence, is expected to be attended by GOP Reps. Tom Garrett Jr. and Dave Brat, and Lt. Colonel Oliver North, according to an invitation obtained by CNN. Tickets start at $1,000 for the general reception, although donors paying $2,700 will also be invited to attend a VIP event beforehand…

Rohrabacher, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been the target of attacks by Democrats and some Republicans for his unusually robust support for Russia. In the past, he has dismissed claims of Russia’s human right violations as “baloney,” publicly defended WikiLeaks and argued that the DNC was not hacked by Russia.

Rohrabacher met with the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, for a private interview in December 2017.

He is now preparing for a challenging reelection fight, with nine Democrats currently jockeying to replace him in his southern California district.

For what it’s worth, according to The Hill, the GOP is already pretending they barely ever knew the guy…

The congressman’s name surfaced again in connection with Russia when Richard Gates, a former campaign aide to President Trump, pleaded guilty in late February to lying about a 2013 meeting between Rohrabacher, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a lobbyist on Ukraine.

While recent polling shows that a majority of voters nationwide are concerned about election interference from abroad, voter backlash to Russia’s 2016 election meddling hasn’t pulled in individual members of Congress — except for Rohrabacher…

“He’s always been the odd man out. Now people have a reason to care [about Russia] and they have a direct way to tie Rohrabacher to it,” Fred Brown, a former Republican National Committee (RNC) official, told The Hill…
Read more

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Been *Such* A Long Week, Already…

[Warning: NSFW language]