Those decades of free-market machinations are now paying off, as a quintet of Ronald Reagan administration alumni — Kudlow, Laffer, Forbes, Moore and David Malpass—united by undying affection for each other and for laissez-faire economics, have the run of Washington once more. Members of the tight-knit group have shaped Trump’s signature tax cut, helped install each other in posts with vast influence over the global economy, and are working to channel Trump’s mercantilist instincts into pro-trade policies. Blasted by their critics as charlatans and lauded by their acolytes as tireless champions of prosperity, there’s no denying that the quintet has had an enduring impact on decades of economic policy.
Most recently, in late March, and partly at Kudlow’s urging, Trump announced his intention to nominate Moore to one of two open seats on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the body that sets the tempo of the global financial system.
The announcement prompted protests from economists across the ideological spectrum—George W. Bush’s top economist, Harvard’s Gregory Mankiw, said Moore lacked the “intellectual gravitas” for the job—who warned that appointing Moore, a think-tanker with no Ph.D., would politicize the Fed. Soon, it emerged that Moore had made a mistake on a 2014 tax return that led the IRS to place a disputed $75,000 lien against him, and CNN dug up scathing comments Moore had made about Trump during the presidential primary.
Whether Moore can survive the scrutiny and pass muster with the Senate will be a test of the supply-siders’ renewed cachet. They believe they can pull it off.
“I understand there are imperfections,” Kudlow told POLITICO. “I think it can be worked out.”
Moore described some of his recent conversations with Trump, which often turn to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.
“I think his criticism of Powell is excessive and could be counterproductive,” Moore said, because it could actually provoke Powell to prove his independence by defying Trump’s wishes. Generally speaking, Trump wants Powell to keep interest rates low to decrease the chances of any economic slump before the president faces voters again next November.
Moore also recounted how he and Laffer, who began advising Trump in 2016, helped place Kudlow in his current posting.
Roughly a year into Trump’s term, as Trump’s first NEC director, Gary Cohn, prepared to depart the post, the duo sprang into action. Moore said that during this period, whenever he and Laffer engaged in their semiregular consultations with Trump, they would have some version of the following exchange:
“You know, Mr. President, you’re missing one thing,” Laffer or Moore would say.
“What is that?” Trump would ask.
“Larry Kudlow,” Laffer or Moore would tell him.
“We just drilled the message over and over,” Moore recalled. “‘Larry, Larry, Larry, Larry.’”
During that same period, following the 1974 midterms, Laffer first drewhis famous Laffer Curve — a representation of the idea that at a certain level of taxation, lowering taxes would theoretically spur enough growth that government revenue would actually rise—at a meeting near the White House with Wanniski, Dick Cheney, then an aide to President Gerald Ford, and Grace-Marie Arnett, another free marketeer active in Republican politics.
Reagan would go on to fully embrace supply-side theory, a shift from the party’s traditional emphasis on fiscal discipline, appointing Laffer to his Economic Policy Advisory Board.
Then as now, supply-side economics was criticized for favoring the rich and derided by critics as unrealistic “Voodoo Economics.” The critics got an early boost from a 1981 Atlantic cover story in which Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, aired his doubts that this novel theory was working in practice.
The piece ruined Stockman’s standing with Reagan—Laffer calls him “the traitor of all traitors”—but Stockman’s young aide, Kudlow, now 71, remained a loyal supply-sider and struck up a relationship with Laffer.
Reagan would go on to appoint Forbes as the head of the Board of International Broadcasting, which oversaw Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, and Moore worked as the research director for Reagan’s privatization commission. Malpass, meanwhile, worked in Reagan’s Treasury department. Representatives for Forbes and Malpass said they were not available for interviews.
In the 1988 presidential primary, another supply-sider, the late New York congressman Jack Kemp, lost out to George H.W. Bush, curtailing the crew’s influence within the party.
But they stuck together. Moore, now 59, first became close with Laffer and Kudlow in 1991, after he recruited them to participate in an event celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Reagan’s first tax cuts for the libertarian Cato Institute.
In 1993, Kudlow and Forbes teamed up to craft a tax cut plan for New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Christine Todd Whitman, who went on to unseat incumbent Democrat James Florio.
Meanwhile, Kudlow hired Malpass to work for him at Bear Stearns, where he had been flying high as the investment bank’s chief economist.
The next year, Kudlow crashed to earth—he left the bank and entered rehab for alcohol and cocaine addiction. Laffer stuck by Kudlow, hiring the investment banker to work for his consulting firm in California when he emerged.
In 1996, Forbes, backed by Moore, entered the Republican primary and lost out to Bob Dole, but the group takes credit for getting Kemp picked for the bottom half of that year’s ticket, which lost to incumbent Bill Clinton.
And they have not stopped partying since. Members of the group have continued to actively socialize with each other over the decades, with some spending New Year’s eves together. At one birthday party for Laffer in New York, they presented the aging economist with a signed poster of the Jedi master Yoda. “I’m short, a little bit fat. I’ve got big, green ears,” Laffer explained. “I look sort of like Yoda.”
In 2015, Forbes, Laffer, Kudlow and Moore created the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, a group intended in part to counter the emergence of the “Reformicons,” a rival gang of Republican eggheads who felt the party had gone too far in the direction of laissez-faire policies favoring the rich.
Among the other 29 committee members listed in a press release were both Malpasses, Kevin Hassett, now chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Andy Puzder, who was Trump’s initial pick for labor secretary until allegations of domestic abuse unearthed by POLITICO derailed his nomination.
The group sought, with considerable success, to vet Republican presidential candidates for their supply-side credentials and to influence their platforms, holding large private dinners at Manhattan venues such as the Four Seasons and the 21 Club, so that committee members and other notable invitees—like Rudy Giuliani and Roger Ailes—could feel out the candidates.
Before meeting with the larger group, candidates would huddle with the committee’s founders to receive economic tutorials. Or in the case of Ohio Governor John Kasich, to give one. “We were all sitting there, and he would talk for an hour,” Moore recalled. “We’re like, ‘No, we’re supposed to be talking to you,’ and he’s talking to us.” Moore called the episode “Classic John Kasich.”
Though the events were supposed to be off the record, journalists often attended, and an otherwise lackluster February 2015 dinner for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made headlines when Giuliani barged in, proclaimed he did not believe that President Barack Obama “loves America,” and insisted a POLITICO reporter could print the quote.
But after Mr. Trump entered the Oval Office, the network’s opinion hosts — from the cast of the president’s favorite morning show, “Fox & Friends,” to the anchor of “Hannity” — began to cheerlead his agenda more and more. Ratings and revenue increased, thanks to the overlap between the network’s audience and the Make America Great Again crowd.
On Monday night, though, with its biggest star joining Mr. Trump at a raucous campaign event, Fox News entered new territory — a thicket in which it’s hard to tell where the network ends and the president begins. The morning after, Fox News employees were complaining about what had happened in Cape Girardeau.
Mr. Trump introduced Mr. Hannity — an informal adviser and close confidant since the 2016 campaign — as someone who had been “with us since the beginning.” After a firm handshake and a warm bro-hug, Mr. Hannity pointed toward the reporters in the back and said, “By the way, all those people in the back are fake news.”
The host and the president smiled as the crowd jeered the press pen — which included the Fox News White House correspondent Kristin Fisher. Then Mr. Hannity delivered, in a thunderous voice, one of the Trump campaign’s slogans: “Promises made, promises kept!”
His Fox News colleague Jeanine Pirro also appeared on the rally stage that night. “Do you like the fact that this man is the tip of the spear that goes out there every day and fights for us?” she said, to cheers.
.. For all his many faults, Mr. Ailes understood the value of maintaining at least the semblance of separation between the network and the political party he was effectively commandeering from his desk in Manhattan. And he believed he had to protect his stable of news correspondents and producers to give Fox News some credibility beyond the core viewers who tuned in for its opinion hosts.
So, for instance, when Mr. Hannity went to Cincinnati to headline a planned Tea Party event in 2010, the boss forced him to cancel, angry that he had even said yes to such a thing.
.. These days, it seems, Fox News doesn’t have anyone drawing the line. It has been that way since the departure of Mr. Ailes, who was booted from the network in 2016 after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment and who died the next year.
- .. Mr. Hannity has called the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, part of a “deep state” conspiracy run by a “crime family.”
- Laura Ingraham has likened the federal detention facilities holding migrant children to “summer camps.” And
- Tucker Carlson has described the caravan of asylum seekers as “highly dangerous.”
.. Ainsley Earhardt, a “Fox & Friends” host, did not score one for journalism when she offered an on-air defense of Mr. Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people” to describe the news media. “He’s saying: ‘If you don’t want to be called the enemy, then get the story right. Be accurate and report the story the way I want it reported,’” Ms. Earhardt said.
.. I have yet to see Rachel Maddow showing up at a campaign event for Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer.
.. The morning after the rally in Missouri — after in-house complaints from anchors and reporters and a broader social media backlash — the network issued a statement that mentioned neither Mr. Hannity nor Ms. Pirro by name. “Fox News does not condone talent participating in campaign events,” it said, before referring vaguely to “an unfortunate distraction” that had “been addressed.”
.. Two weeks ago, a guest on Lou Dobbs’s show on the Fox Business Network, the conservative activist Chris Farrell, made the false allegation that the liberal political donor George Soros, who is Jewish, had paid migrants to come to the United States; he also asserted without evidence that Mr. Soros had undue influence in the State Department. Those false charges hark back to common anti-Semitic tropes. After deafening blowback, Fox News said Mr. Farrell would no longer appear on its channels.
.. And earlier this month, Ms. Pirro headlined a fund-raiser for Scott Wagner, the Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania. As The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, she earned $24,500 for serving as an “event speaker.” (Fox News had no official statement on that one.)
.. The only guardians of the old rules separating Fox News journalists from the people they are supposed to cover are the working journalists at the network. Apparently fed up with the caravan hysteria promoted by the prime-time pundits, the Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said on-air, “There is no invasion. No one is coming to get you. There is nothing at all to worry about.” Others, like the Fox News anchor Bret Baier and the Sunday host Chris Wallace, have at times made public complaints. As Mr. Wallace once said about the network’s pundits parroting Mr. Trump’s anti-press attacks, “It bothers me.”
.. When companies pulled their commercials from “The Ingraham Angle” after its host poked fun at David Hogg, a student survivor of the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., the show’s ratings went up.
.. Administration officials with former on-air roles at the network include Ben Carson, the housing secretary; John Bolton, the national security director; Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman; and Mercedes Schlapp, the White House strategic communications director. Oh, and Mr. Trump’s former communications director, Hope Hicks, has been hired as the communications director at Fox News’s corporate parent.
As long as I’ve covered politics, Republicans have been trying to scare me.
Sometimes, it has been about gays and transgender people and uppity women looming, but usually it has been about people with darker skin looming.
They’re coming, always coming, to take things and change things and hurt people.
A Democratic president coined the expression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But it was Republicans who flipped the sentiment and turned it into a powerful and remorseless campaign ethos: Make voters fear fear itself.
The president has, after all, put a tremendous effort into the sulfurous stew of lies, racially charged rhetoric and scaremongering that he has been serving up as an election closer. He has been inspired to new depths of delusion, tweeting that “Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not! Vote Republican.”
He has been twinning the words “caravan” and “Kavanaugh” in a mellifluous poem to white male hegemony. Whites should be afraid of the migrant caravan traveling from Central America, especially since “unknown Middle Easterners” were hidden in its midst, an alternative fact that he cheerfully acknowledged was based on nothing.
The word “Kavanaugh” is meant to evoke the fear that aggrieved women will hurtle out of the past to tear down men from their rightful perches of privilege.
Naomi Wolf told Bill Clinton, and later Al Gore, they should present themselves as the Good Father, strong enough to protect the home (America) from invaders.
Conservatives are coming up with conspiracy theories about Ford and saying her allegations are just too old to investigate.
Well, Kavanaugh Didn’t Sexually Assault Every Woman
.. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a letter signed by 65 women who said they knew Kavanaugh in high school and could vouch for his “decency.” Two women who said they dated Kavanaugh also released statements Monday saying that they knew him as a good guy.
Bringing out women who didn’t experience any sexual misconduct to vouch for the character of a man is a common tactic. It happened during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearing and when then–Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes was under fire. But just because a man didn’t mistreat all women doesn’t mean he didn’t mistreat one woman.
If It Could Happen To Kavanaugh, It Could Happen To Any Man
If it could happen to him, Joe from your office could be next. Maybe Ray, the friendly guy who bags your groceries. Or even you.
“If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried. We can all be accused of something,” said a lawyer close to the White House.
But it hasn’t happened to every man. Neal Gorsuch made it onto the Supreme Court bench just fine. So did John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) tweeted a similar concern.
Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post has a solid response to this worry.
Ford Got Low Marks On A Professor-Rating Website
The conservative Drudge Report ran with a story from Grabien News on Monday that purported to have uncovered negative reviews of Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, by her students and posted on. This attack would seemingly undermine Ford because a bad professor can’t also be a victim of sexual assault, or something?
But they messed with the wrong woman. No, really. The story was literally about the wrong woman. The reviews were about Christine A. Ford, a social worker who taught at California State University at Fullerton.
Although Grabien News posted a retraction, Drudge deleted the tweet and pretended nothing ever happened.
.. It Was So Long Ago
Ari Fleischer, who served as President George W. Bush’s press secretary during the run-up to the Iraq War, said he wasn’t sure Kavanaugh should be held responsible for something he did in high school.
“How much in society should any of us be held liable today when we lived a good life, an upstanding life by all accounts, and then something that maybe is an arguable issue took place in high school?” Fleischer said on Fox News. “Should that deny us chances later in life? Even for a Supreme Court job, a presidency of the United States or you name it. How accountable are we for high school actions, when this is clearly a disputable high school action? That’s a tough issue.”
Donald Trump Jr. put up an Instagram post implying that they were just kids back then and it was just like when a boy asks a girl out on a date with a handwritten note.
Ford, meanwhile, said that the incident with Kavanaugh “derailed me substantially for four or five years,” leading her to struggle academically and socially. She also had trouble forming relationships with men.
.. Something About The Salem Witch Trials
Lance Morrow, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal comparing Kavanaugh to women who had been accused of being witches. He said that “hysterical fantasies had real consequences,” resulting in the death of women believed to be witches.
Morrow goes after Ford for first not identifying herself and points out that because there was no police report, no witnesses and the other guy in the room at the time (whose reliability as a character witness is questionable) denies that the incident took place.
“The thing happened — if it happened — an awfully long time ago,” he added, “back in Ronald Reagan’s time, when the actors in the drama were minors and (the boys, anyway) under the blurring influence of alcohol and adolescent hormones.”
Something About The Russia Investigation
The Liberty Counsel, a conservative group supporting Kavanaugh, sent out a press release with at least seven reasons the public should not trust Ford. One of them seemed new and different:
Ford has a brother, Ralph Blasey, who worked for Baker Hostetler, a law firm that retained Fusion GPS, the infamous DC company that produced the unverified Steele dossier on President Donald Trump and Russia, sparking the Russia investigation.
It’s ridiculous to think that because Ford’s brother works at a law firm that had some tie to the Russia investigation, she is in on some grand conspiracy to bring down Kavanaugh and Trump. But Blasey worked at the firm from 1989 to 2004 — long before Trump was president or even considering running for president.
.. Ford Bears A Grudge Against Kavanaugh’s Mom
Right-wing websites started running with a theory about why Ford is coming out against Kavanaugh (other than that he allegedly assaulted her): His mother, formerly a Maryland district judge, ruled against Ford’s parents in a foreclosure case.
“Isn’t it kind of amazing that all the media reports today didn’t mention this little conflict of interest for Blasey-Ford?” wrote the site Pacific Pundit.
They didn’t mention this story because it’s not true, as Snopes points out. Kavanaugh’s mom did preside in a foreclosure case involving Ford’s parents, but the outcome of the case was actually favorable for them.