Sporting on his lapel a red oval button with a pair of shears to symbolize President Trump's cutting of economy-hampering regulations, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last night that he "couldn't imagine a Republican in Congress who would vote against tax cuts," the key to the president's tax reform proposals.
"Reallly? I could introduce you to a few," said host and economist Larry Kudlow with mock incredulity, evoking laughter from the crowd.
The Commerce Secretary and host of "The Kudlow Report" were doing a lively, wide-ranging one-on-one interview last night at an event called "Newsmax in the Nation's Capital," jointly sponsored by the news outlet and Google and held in Google's splashy headquarters at 25 Massachusetts Avenue, near Union Station.
While the president's tax cuts could produce jobs and economic growth, Ross admitted that working with to pass the cuts could be tricky, though he is clearly optimistic about the future. Still, the secretary said that Congress is "more concerned about procedure than results."
"It's the Congress. That's where the flaw comes," Ross said."Congress is much more about process than about results," he said, adding that it would be "tragic for the American economy," if Congress fails to pass the tax cuts.
Kudlow and Ross agreed that the economy is rebounding. "Animal juices are starting to flow again," said Ross, "and it has a lot to do with regulatory reform," adding that the proposed tax cuts "will be very powerful for the economy."
"Everyday CEOs are coming into our office, usually looking for something new, but they usually begin by saying how happy they are and how much better they're doing because of the reduced regulatory burden," Ross said.
"A number of them have announced plans to expand even before the tax code comes onto the horizon," he said. "Assuming we get the tax cut that will really be very, very powerful for the economy — because it'll have a multiplier effect on everything else we're doing."
President Trump is linking the cuts in corporate income tax, which Democrats like to portray as "tax cuts for the rich," to benefits for middle class Americans.
"Most middle-income wage earners are employed by somebody," Ross said. "Most of them are not self-employed people. Kudlow and Ross praised the president for making this linkage, which Republicans often fail to do.
"If more employment comes in, if there are more capital expenditures, more growth, clearly it will benefit those folks."
Needless to say, the president's proposals are facing fierce opposition from Democrats. Kudlow brought up Clinton administration Treasury secretary Larry Summers' calling the proposals "dishonest." Ross said "ad hominem attacks don't add much to economic theory." He added that Summers and others are "petrified that it just may work — and if it does work, it's not good for their future."
Kudlow said that the opposition is so bitter because we are witnessing "the last stand of the Keynesians" if Trump's proposals become law and produce a strong economy.
Ross and Kudlow disagreed about the North American Free-Trade Agreement, with Kudlow supportive and Ross insisting that elements of it need to be renegotiated.
One of the most interesting moments came late in the interview when Ross, who mentioned that he is working with Ivanka Trump on workplace issues, said that our high schools are not turning out people ready to do certain kinds of skilled jobs.
Ross said that we should move past the "social opprobrium" attached to not going to college. Ross said that many young people who would thrive with vocational courses go to college but don't graduate. They end up with "no degree and $50,000 in student loan debt."
You can see a rebroadcast of the discussion on Newsmax TV Saturday at 1 p.m., and Sunday at 10 a.m.(Eastern times).