Trump’s senior economic adviser Hassett to leave job ‘shortly’

Kevin Hassett championed corporate tax cuts but was wary of protectionist impulse

Kevin Hassett: excluded from a White House meeting last week at which the president decided to impose escalating tariffs on Mexico. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

Kevin Hassett: excluded from a White House meeting last week at which the president decided to impose escalating tariffs on Mexico. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

 

The chairman of the White House council of economic advisers, Kevin Hassett, will depart “shortly”, President Donald Trump said, winnowing another advocate of traditional conservative positions on trade from the ranks of Trump’s advisers.

Mr Hassett had not publicly telegraphed an intention to leave, but he said in an interview on Sunday night that he had discussed the move with the president last week and that it was not related to trade policy or any other contentious issue in the White House.

“It’s just normal, circle-of-life kind of things,” Mr Hassett said. “It has nothing to do with any policy disagreements.”

He said two years was historically the normal tenure for a chairman of the council.

Mr Hassett’s research has long focused on the potential to expand economic growth – and middle-class earnings – by cutting corporate tax rates. In the administration, he has been a champion of the corporate tax cuts that the president signed into law in late 2017 and a stalwart optimist about the economic growth those tax cuts could spur for years to come.

Conservative outlook

Mr Hassett and his team projected significantly stronger growth for this year than their counterparts on Wall Street and at the Federal Reserve, a divide that stemmed in large part from the administration’s faith in the enduring power of tax cuts to stimulate investment and business activity.

Although he has defended Mr Trump’s trade policies on television and in other public appearances, Mr Hassett has often been a voice inside the administration for a more traditionally conservative view of trade – one that pushes to open markets to trade and that often opposes tariffs, Mr Trump’s favourite weapon in his disputes with China, Mexico and other trading partners.

More protectionist voices have been carrying the day with Mr Trump in recent weeks. Mr Hassett was excluded from a White House meeting last week at which the president decided to impose escalating tariffs on Mexico in hopes of forcing the Mexican government to crack down on immigrants crossing the US’s southwestern border. – New York Times