Just when the gloom in the Empire State seemed thicker than ever, a ray of light pierced the darkness. The New York Post reported on Friday that economist and CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow was said to be contemplating a challenge to Sen. Chuck Schumer in response to a Draft Kudlow movement.
Could the revolt taking place in other states spread to the epicenter of the tax-and-spend ideal? Voters in New Jersey (who just installed Chris Christie in the governor’s mansion) and Massachusetts (who just sent Scott Brown to the senate) have rejected their state’s machines. That couldn’t happen in New York, right?
It’s true that the old guard in the Empire State appears to have as imperially tight a grip on power as ever. Unless a credible opposition emerges, New York’s two Senate seats and its governor’s chair — all up for grabs this year — will almost certainly go to candidates backed by the entrenched political establishment. Andrew Cuomo will take the governor’s mansion; Schumer and his protégé Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed by Gov. David Paterson to fill the seat Hillary Clinton vacated, will return to the Senate.
Cuomo, Gillibrand, and Schumer: It’s a lineup that promises about as much fresh thinking as a Politburo meeting in the Brezhnev era. The Cuomos have been a fixture of New York’s political establishment since the Seventies. Gillibrand cut her political teeth under Andrew Cuomo in the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton years; she and Schumer are now senatorial soulmates. Schumer himself has been in Congress for nearly three decades.
Will Kudlow challenge him? “The only thing I’ve said and I’ll continue to say,” he told The Daily Caller, is that “I’m honored to be considered.” But “defeating Senator Schumer,” he added, “would be a noble cause.”
It would be perfectly understandable if Kudlow declined to put himself and his family through the hell of a campaign. But if he did throw his hat in the ring, his candidacy would be an important one.
Washington is engaged in two big policy debates: whether to expand the social state through nationalized health care, cap-and-trade legislation, and massive increases in government spending; and how to fix the government’s too-big-to-fail banking policy without wrecking the nation’s capital markets.
At this critical juncture, Candidate Kudlow could make a vital contribution to the debate. That’s because the combination of gifts he possesses is so rare. Kudlow is at once an economic expert and an expert communicator. As an economist, he was “present at the creation” of Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in the Eighties, when he served as associate director of economics and planning in Reagan’s OMB. As a communicator, he reaches a vast audience through CNBC’s The Kudlow Report and WABC radio’s The Larry Kudlow Show. He can tell you the top marginal income tax rate when President Kennedy proposed his own epochal tax cuts in 1962 (91 percent). What’s more, he can make you understand the significance of those cuts in a way few other economists can.