‘Don’t Blame Trump’ for Inheriting ‘Broken World Trading System’

Presidential adviser Larry Kudlow said chief executive is 'trying to fix it' — and made significant progress last week

National Economic Council (NEC) Director Larry Kudlow urged Americans on Sunday not to blame President Donald Trump for pushing tough tariffs and balanced trade agreements because he “inherited a completely broken world trading system” that he’s trying to fix.

“[Trump’s] a free trader. And he wants to have no tariffs,” Kudlow (pictured above) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This is a tough, hard thing to do. You know, people say, ‘Well, President Trump’s tariffs are damaging this, that, and the other thing.'”

“I say, don’t blame President Trump. He inherited a completely broken world trading system,” he added. “He’s trying to fix it. Other U.S. presidents in both political parties … have never pushed the way he’s pushing.”

Kudlow said he agreed with Trump’s belief that “if we can work these things out and improve the trading system, it will be to the benefit of the United States economy, our exports, our farmers, our industry, and, by the way, will probably help the rest of the world, too.”

“So you just got to give him a chance to get this policy in place,” he insisted.

Trump campaigned heavily, during the 2016 presidential election, on striking fair trade deals that would level the playing field for U.S. workers and companies. The president gained major trade concessions Wednesday after he hosted European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House.

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The two leaders discussed trade and tariffs less than two weeks after Trump dubbed the European Union (EU) a U.S. trade “foe” during a “CBS Evening News” interview with anchor Jeff Glor, which caused an international uproar.

Trump imposed 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs, respectively, on steel and aluminum imported from the EU in June, prompting the EU to retaliate with its own tariffs on U.S. steel and agriculture imports. The president also threatened to impose 20 percent tariffs on European cars imported to the U.S., which resulted in Juncker’s trip to Washington to talk with Trump.

Trump and Juncker agreed at the White House to begin crafting a new deal to avoid a more serious trade war.

“The deal we made with the European Union this past week is very important to get us on this road,” Kudlow insisted, noting that Juncker and Trump “got together” and “surprised probably almost everybody in the world and basically came to agreement on a number of key items.”

“If the deal works through nicely — and it’s going to be several stages — I don’t think there will be steel tariffs for the European Union. I don’t think there will be automobile tariffs,” Kudlow added.

Kudlow also praised Friday’s news that the United States’ economy grew by an impressive 4.1 percent during the second quarter of this year as the highest rate in nearly four years, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Kudlow insisted that such numbers would be sustainable.

“There’s just a lot of good things going on,” Kudlow told CNN host Jake Tapper. “Policies matter a lot, Jake. And I think the president deserves a victory lap. Low tax rates, rolling back regulations, opening up energy, for example, trade reform, which I think is already paying off with respect to the EU agreement we did last week — the fundamentals of the economy look really good.”

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin also praised Trump and his policies for Friday’s good news during an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” saying he expected to see sustained economic growth over the next several years.

Related: Trump Boom Hits 4.1 Percent Growth Rate in Second Quarter

“We’ve been very clear since the campaign. The president’s economic plan has always consisted of tax reform, trade relief and regulatory relief. We said we were going to achieve 3 percent or higher sustained GDP, and that’s where we are,” Mnuchin told Fox News host Chris Wallace.

“The 4 percent, 4.1, was a terrific order, but we are very focused on the long-term sustained economic growth, which our plans have had,” he said. “I think we are well on this path for several years.”

“I don’t think this is a one- or two-year phenomenon. I think we definitely are in a period of … four or five years of sustained 3 percent growth, at least,” Mnuchin predicted.

“We need our counterparts to follow through and deliver, breaking down barriers, and creating better opportunities so that we can reduce our giant trade deficit.”

Mnuchin said the forthcoming “complicated negotiations” should “be turned into a real agreement that’s literally hundreds and hundreds of pages.”

“So we’re going to go part-by-part with Europe … We are going to negotiate piece by piece with the EU. And, you know, we continue to have conversations with China. And we’ll see where we get,” he said.

Mnuchin continued: “These things have to be negotiated because the president is very clear he doesn’t just want talk — we need our counterparts to follow through and deliver, breaking down barriers, and creating better opportunities so that we can reduce our giant trade deficit.”

Trump “is not willing to live with the status quo, where other countries have taken advantage of the rules,” he warned. “And we are focused on, as we said, free and fair trade,” he concluded. “Let’s take down all the barriers.”

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