It’s with no small sadness that tonight will be the last time I get to mix it up with my good friend Larry Kudlow on his final show tonight at 7 on CNBC.
For more than a decade, Larry and I have disagreed without being disagreeable. I will always deeply appreciate his kindness to me and his openness to at least hearing my ideas–very different from his own–on the political economy.
I remember my very first interview as an economist for the Obama administration. They told me it was with Larry and said, “You sure you want to talk to him first?” I was very sure, and after about 30 seconds, we were back into it like we’d never missed a beat.
So, after all these years, is there anything Larry and I agree on? Sure:
–Growth is essential and solves a whole lot of other problems. I’d say growth is necessary but not sufficient in terms of raising the living standards of the poor and middle class. Larry might say it’s both.
–Simplify the tax code. And that’s where our tax agreements probably end. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool supply-sider, and while I’ve busted his chops on trickle-down (and how it doesn’t work) over the years, I haven’t come anywhere close to changing his mind.
–Government needs to be a better implementer. We strongly disagree on the role of government, but we agree that when the public sector does something, it needs to do it well. False starts, lack of clarity, wasteful and inefficient implementation are to be assiduously avoided.
–Maybe I’m reaching a bit here, but I think he may kinda sorta recognize a role for temporary fiscal and monetary stimulus, and even the safety net, when the market fails. But he’d run that stuff far more temporarily than I would.
–Capitalist economies are better than all the other alternatives.
One other thing. I know very few conservative economists as consistent as Larry. He’s one of the few get-the-gov’t-out-of-the-way types who’s willing to go there even when it means whacking the rich. For example, around the bailouts, there were a lot of anti-government types who were happy to take the government’s cash–you know, socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else types. That’s not Larry.
He’s not leaving the scene and I’m sure we’ll continue to have it out on the airwaves. But if I may say so without being self serving, I think that over the years Larry and I have crafted a pretty good model for constructive conversation and debate between people who fundamentally disagree. Frankly, I’m not sure how we move forward as a nation without a lot more people having those conversations, and I’m going to miss them.
Update: My pal Jimmy P, also on the show tonight, has this great tribute to Larry on his blog.