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News Shapers: Infrastructure Week

Mike Allen interviews National Economic Director Larry Kudlow.
Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen interviews National Eocnomic Director Larry Kudlow. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

In the midst of Infrastructure Week, a stacked line up of news shapers joined Mike Allen to discuss infrastructure policy and the news of the day.

Why it mattered: We heard from both sides of the aisle on how to fix our country's infrastructure, as well as Larry Kudlow's view on the looming trade war with China: "Blame China, not Trump."

The news shapers:

  • T.H. Larry Kudlow, Director, National Economic Council, The White House.
  • T.H. James Inhofe, U.S. Senator, Oklahoma. Chairman, Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
  • T.H. Eleanor Holmes Norton, U.S. Representative, District of Columbia. Ranking Member, House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
  • T.H. Steve Adler, Mayor, Austin, Texas. Vice Chair, U.S. Conference of Mayors Subcommittee on Highways.
  • Mr. Steven Brill, Author, Tailspin.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

On the infrastructure bill:

Dead vs. alive: Senator Inhofe says the infrastructure bill is "not dead on arrival. We're actively working on it right now."

Tomorrow vs. never: Mayor Adler says he'd "rather [an infrastructure bill] happen tomorrow than not happen at all."

Old vs. new: Typically, infrastructure funding is raised by implementing a gas tax, but Rep. Holmes Norton says "we may have to look for a new way to fund our infrastructure" due to Republicans resistance this time around.

Senator James Inhofe and Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios
QuoteEven the most far-left Democrats and the most far-right Republicans all agree on the need to improve our roads and ports.
— Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
NEC Director Larry Kudlow and Mike Allen.

Takeaways from NEC Director Larry Kudlow

On China:

  • "I don't believe [the President] wants a trade war [with China]. I don't want a trade war."
  • "I believe trade deals are good things, but, China has to reform its system. They've been behaving like a third-world country."
  • 🌈➡️💰: "If you can get through this process, with China [...] then, at the end of that rainbow you're going to have economic growth."

Why it matters: Kudlow is pushing for China to lower its trade barriers in the wake of Trump's announced tariffs on Chinese products that signaled a potential trade war.

On NAFTA:

  • On getting a better deal: there's a "51-49" chance.

Why it matters: President Trump has walked back from his original threat to pull out of NAFTA entirely. His adminisitatrion is now working to cut a better deal in the U.S.'s favor but the odds aren't great, according to Kudlow.

Go deeper: Larry Kudlow puts faith in Trump-Xi "bromance"

Thank you to Bank of America for sponsoring this event.