Gary Cohn, President Trump’s top economic adviser, announced yesterday he will resign.
Cohn was a former president of Goldman Sachs. He has been on the losing end of the White House debate over Trump’s controversial steel and aluminum tariffs, which the President announced last week.
The White House says there is no single reason for Cohn’s decision, but come on --- it’s all about the tariffs.
Yesterday, the President called Cohn “a rare talent” and said he “did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again.”
The White House also said Cohn is departing on positive terms with the President and that they will continue policy discussions even after he leaves. Don’t bet on it, because this definitely seems like Trump showing Cohn the door.
Cohn is a Democrat and a free-trade advocate who was head of the President’s National Economic Council. Now that Trump seems to be doubling down on his unpopular decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum, maybe Cohn just got tired of fighting the battle.
Critics are already fretting about Cohn’s departure. They’re concerned there won’t be a gatekeeper like Cohn, who managed to keep the President’s nationalist economic tendencies at bay. Last summer, Cohn reportedly blocked the effort by Peter Navarro (a Trump trade adviser) to withdraw from NAFTA. Who’s going to watch the gate now?
Along with Steve Mnuchin and John Kelly, Cohn was firmly in the camp that felt abandoning trade deals and imposing tariffs would harm U.S. businesses, our economy and foreign relations. Now, free-trade has one less advocate in the White House.
Who will Trump find to replace Cohn? What self-respecting economist would sign up for this job knowing they'd be expected to push a protectionist tariff policy straight out of the late 1800s?
President Trump certainly isn’t worried. At the White House press conference yesterday, he said, “they all want to be in the White House. So many people want to come in. I have a choice of anybody.”