FPR Interviews – Larry Kudlow

Mr. Larry Kudlow is a senior contributor on CNBC, a noted economist, radio talk show host and former associate director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan Administration. He was a guest of the Fordham University College Republicans on Monday, April 14th to speak in Keating 1st Auditorium at Rose Hill. College Republicans Treasurer Benjamin Shull, who is also Congressional Affairs Editor for the Fordham Political Review, sat down with him after his speech.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, having recently come out with a new tax proposal, announced that he will be retiring at the end of his term, and is widely expected to be succeeded by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as Chairman of Ways and Means. As a proponent of lowered tax rates yourself, what do you believe are the prospects for serious tax reform under Paul Ryan should he assume the chairmanship of the House’s tax-writing committee?

Camp’s plan was is in the right direction, if not always with the right details. Ryan has a long history of this and he knows the subject very well, and he needs a Republican Senate along with a Republican House and my guess is he’ll probably need a Republican President also to get it done, but it’ll be a noble quest.

Paul Ryan has recently drawn some criticism from the far right and Tea Party groups, much of which was directed at the recent budget compromise he made with his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Patty Murray of Washington. What do you make of such criticism of Paul Ryan from the right, especially given the unquestionable nature of his own conservatism?

You know, some of the Tea Partiers—who I like and I think they’re right—Paul Ryan agrees with them, but you can’t always get what you want. It’s like the Reagan philosophy: “give me half a loaf now, and give me the other half later”. So Paul did what he had to do, and yes there were some criticisms of him, but it wasn’t a really large criticism. It’s what I would call fairly muted stuff.

In consideration of Republican prospects on taking the Senate this November, do you feel as though the attacks directed at the GOP establishment from its conservative activist wing, especially those from the Tea Party and outside spenders such as Club for Growth, For America, and Heritage Action, are doing more to imperil conservative policies than promote them?

I think that what you’re seeing, and there was a good story in the Wall Street Journal and a good story in National Review about a certain coming together going on out there, particularly regarding Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth. So there’s a lot more cooperation and conversation. I think there’s going to be some primaries between the establishment and the Tea Party, but that’s okay. It doesn’t bother me. A couple of states come to mind in the Senate, like Tennessee where the Tea Party is not going to run against Lamar Alexander in the primary, and Colorado, where Ken Buck is bowing out for Congressman Corey Gardner. This so-called division between the Tea Party and the GOP is overrated and right now, calmer heads are prevailing.

Much of the infighting we see within the GOP is centered around President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. While opposition to the healthcare reform is pretty much universal within the Republican Party, there are clear differences in political tactics towards combatting the law, with more conservative members of the GOP like Ted Cruz spearheading a government shutdown over funding the ACA last fall, and other more moderate Republicans calling for incremental changes to the law or simply allowing it to fail. Do you yourself have a preference for either political strategy?

It’s going to be rewritten. There might be one or two things that survive but it’s going to be rewritten. I don’t know what repeal means, I just know that the law needs to be rewritten and if the Republicans get a majority it will be rewritten. It may take a President, too, but a House and a Senate can put tremendous pressure on the President to change a lot, like the mandates must go and many of the taxes must go and there should be more consumer choice. These are things that can be done. So I don’t know about repeal. All I know is—and I’ve said this—we should put a three year moratorium on anything to do with Obamacare. And Obama’s basically done that. The individual mandate is frozen for three years, the business mandate’s been frozen for three years. So nothing’s going to happen in a major way until after the elections, and maybe not until 2017.

Lastly, as long as we’re on the topic of the Affordable Care Act, what do you see as the future of Obamacare itself. Despite recent headlines that the Obama Administration had signed up over 7 million in health care plans through the program, you’ve maintained on both your radio and television programs that you believe that the individual mandate of the law will not stand. Speaking more broadly, what do you think will be the status of the Affordable Care Act as a whole come 2016?

Well I don’t know since it’s hard to predict that, but I’m going to assume that the Republicans win the Senate and there’s a very good [healthcare] bill from Richard Burr and Tom Coburn and Orrin Hatch. They have some very good ideas there, which are very similar to some bills in the House from Ryan and Steve Scalise and some others. I actually think there’s a lot of agreement in the Republican Party.  The question is, will they have the political and legislative power to do anything about it, and I don’t know that. That’s the issue.