Editor’s note: This is the last of a three-part series featuring an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Stephen Moore, key economic adviser to President Trump, who was set for nomination to the Federal Reserve Board before attacks from the left forced him to withdraw. In part one, Moore described how vicious those smears on his character and record really were. In part two, Moore discussed what he would have done at the Fed, and Trump’s controversial tariffs and trade policy with China.
, in which he also offered an up close and personal assessment of Donald Trump the man.
Tim: China is one issue that Trump, before he was president, had hammered on for years. Every time you heard him talk, he’d talk about how we’re being played for suckers by the Chinese. It seems that Trump is the first one, maybe the only one, who would step up and actually take any action. China is a U.S. adversary, but the E.U. is not. Do you think the use of tariffs against the E.U. is an appropriate policy?
Stephen Moore: It’s interesting because at the G-7 meeting eight, nine months ago, Trump put on the table with the European leaders, why don’t we just go to zero tariffs? And that’s something where Larry Kudlow and I had really been pressing, and the Europeans who were complaining about Trump’s trade policies, they’ve been completely spooked when he said, why don’t we go to zero tariffs? But that’s the solution here. Get rid of tariffs. Trump put it on the table and the Europeans backed away from that. I think at the end of the day, I’m hopeful and maybe I’m being excessively hopeful. I think we’re going to end up with lower tariffs.
We’ve got a pretty good new U.S., Canada, Mexico trade agreement. By the way. one of the most important priorities of Congress should be to have an up or down vote on that new NAFTA agreement because I worked in the room and that was Ronald Reagan’s idea to have North America be a free trade zone. we can’t get Nancy Pelosi to bring that issue up for a vote because she knows it will pass. She’s part of a resistance movement. So she’s resisting Trump even though it’s something that a lot of Democrats understand is in America’s best economic self-interest.
Tim: Let’s talk tax cuts, Steve, how much of a difference has the tax cut, which took effect last year, had on this economy?
Stephen Moore: Well, I’m very proud of this because I worked on this with Art Laffer and Larry Kudlow and we put sort of the original version of this together for Donald Trump. And you know, I saw the president a couple of weeks ago and I just kind of laughed. I said, Mr. Presidents this is working better than we thought it would. We were big believers in it, but I mean it’s a real success to anyone who looks at the economy today and looks at what’s happening with jobs. We’ve got the best job market in 50 years, we’ve got the best economy in terms of growth in 20 years.
The economy is firing up. The tariff battle has taken some of the wind out of the sales or the economy, but it’s very, very strong. I think the tax cuts have increased business investment, business spending, business hiring. It was a very pro-business tax cut. I’m not apologizing for that. We’re for American businesses. We’ve wanted American businesses to be as financially successful as possible so they can pay higher wages and hire more workers. And Tim, that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Donald Trump instinctively knew what he wanted to do. We just kind of helped him out. This is Donald Trump’s agenda. He was a student of this stuff. He knew the direction and it was a pleasure. I mean, it was one of the great pleasures of my life. I’ve played a very small part in helping them put this together and I’m just so thrilled. Tim, I’m an optimistic guy. You’ve known me a long time. But even I didn’t predict the economy would be this strong today.
It’s like the last chapter of my book Tim, called, “A Light Switch is Flicked from Off to On.” And that came from an auto mechanic. A guy runs an auto mechanic shop outside of Cleveland, Ohio. And I remember I asked him about six or nine months after the election, I said to this guy Joey, “How’s business at your company – maybe 15 employees?” And he said, “Steve, it’s almost like the day after the election when Donald Trump was elected, a light switch was flipped from off to on in my store.” And he said, “Ever since then I’ve had more customers than I can handle.” And that’s the Trump effect. And we need five more years of this.
Tim: Yeah. Imagine if the media actually covered that element of the story. I know Steve that for example, our trash collectors where we live here in Northern Virginia, they are sending out emergency bulletins saying they can’t find workers to do their regular pickup on Thursday. They have to do it on Saturday because in a booming economy like this, who wants to be a trash collector when there’s a million and a half jobs out there that they need to fill that are higher wage and a little more prestigious than collecting trash.
Stephen Moore: And that’s a nice little story because it’s a little microcosm of what’s going on. So guess what? Those people who are doing the task on weekends, I bet they’re probably earning overtime pay now, right?
Tim: I want to close this Steve by asking you about your extensive personal interactions with President Trump. Simple question with likely a complicated answer. What is he like personally?
Stephen Moore: I love the guy, I seriously love the guy. I’d say jokingly in my speeches, 90% of all people are wonderful people in public and jerks in private. Trump is a jerk in public and a wonderful person in private – and by the way, I’m just joking. He is, he could not be more charming. He could not be a nicer guy. Every interaction I’ve ever had with him, he’s fantastic. And by the way, before I met him, I had a very negative attitude about that Donald Trump. I didn’t like his public persona.
But I remember one of the things that really impressed me in going to his office up there in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York was just meeting the people around him. His secretaries and his associates and stuff, they love the guy. And you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat the people who work for him or her. And that really impressed me. But he’s a wonderful person. He cares so much about this country. I just, I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make sure that he is reelected president because he’s done an incredible job under withering assaults everyday. I don’t think we’ve ever seen… I don’t know. Tim, have you ever seen anything like it?
Tim: No. No. And I saw the attacks on Bush 43, on Reagan, on Nixon, and I thought those were incredibly brutal, but nothing like this.
Stephen Moore: And you know, nothing gets Donald Trump down. That’s the other thing. He reminds me of Reagan in two ways. Mostly, they never got down, they were so optimistic about America, and people love that. And number two – I think you’ll appreciate this because you knew both of them – Reagan and Trump were both always underestimated by their political adversaries. And you know, it is so true, and they still don’t get Donald Trump. They don’t understand the Trump movement.
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