Gary Cohn, the National Economic Council director and former president of Goldman Sachs, has earned President Donald Trump’s respect as a dealmaker, according to a Washington Post report published on Thursday.
While Cohn, who reportedly describes himself as neither a Republican, nor a Democrat, isn’t popular among Trump’s conservative base — last week, Rush Limbaugh called him “a very ideological liberal Democrat” — he is increasingly influential in a White House trending towards more moderate economic policy.
Cohn is a prominent member of a faction of staffers, led by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who are openly feuding with a more conservative camp led by chief strategist and economic nationalist Steve Bannon.
Cohn is reportedly working hard to cut through Washington drama to put together his agenda of reforming the tax code, crafting an infrastructure plan, cutting financial regulations, and renegotiating international trade agreements. He’s hired about two dozen policy experts, most of whom have worked in government, to help him develop these plans.
White House aides told The Post that Cohn’s efforts to win support from Democratic lawmakers on aspects of Trump’s economic agenda, including his infrastructure investment plan and tax reform, have won him respect from Trump, a self-described master of dealmaking.
While many of these plans haven’t been made public, last week, Cohn detailed his proposal to reform the US air-traffic-control system, telling a meeting of chief executives at the White House that his plan to get rid of the US’s land-based radar system in favour of a global-positioning system would cut jet fuel consumption by 25% every year.
“We are going to cut flight times down fairly dramatically,” Cohn said. “We are going to cut the experience down. We are going to cut tarmac time down.”
Cohn is reportedly working with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a fiscal hawk and harsh critic of government spending, to put together a plan to invest billions in infrastructure. Mulvaney expressed his respect for Cohn’s efforts to cut an infrastructure deal last week on CNBC.
“You’ve got to give these Goldman Sachs guys credit,” Mulvaney said. “They know how to lever up.”
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