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Larry Kudlow speaking with Mike Allen at an Axios event. Photo: Chuck Kennedy/Axios

Larry Kudlow says the president doesn't want a trade war with China, adding that Trump is a free trader.

The big picture: "There's a little bit of a bromance" between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump, Kudlow told Axios' Mike Allen on Tuesday. "Bromances are always good."

Why it matters: "Everyone around the world agrees with the president that China's unfair and often illegal trade practices have to be changed... I call it a trade coalition of the willing."

Yes, but: Trump alienated key U.S. allies who want to fight China, pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific trade partnership and criticizing EU allies, like Germany, on trade.

"[Trump] doesn't want a trade war. I don't want a trade war."
— Kudlow to Axios' Mike Allen

Another big thing: Kudlow handicapped the odds for NAFTA optimism as 51-49. "That's not great for Kudlow optimism," he admitted.

Kudlow on China:
  • "I think the time is right for China to make changes they should have been making for the past 15-20 years."
  • "The president has said to me many times... he is a free trader. But... he knows you can't have free trade if you... have all these unfair trade practices."
  • On the U.S.-China trade deficit: Kudlow clearly doesn’t think there’s any chance of reducing the trade deficit with China unless we force major structural changes in their economy and industrial practices, Axios' Jonathan Swan emails.
    • Between the lines: The idea — which appeals to Trump — of getting the Chinese to buy billions in U.S. products is not one that will reduce the bilateral trade deficit over time. He also made clear where he disagrees with Trump. For Trump the trade deficit with any given country is the key metric — and the one he brings up in every conversation with foreign leaders. Kudlow says it’s not his favorite metric.
  • On ZTE: "It's a very poorly run company. It has many internal flaws. This is principally an enforcement issue. They have been proven guilty not once not twice but three times."
    • Kudlow acknowledged that Trump blends economic negotiations with national security and that everything is up for negotiation. (This way of thinking has concerned many national security experts and China hawks, including Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.)
Kudlow on the GOP tax cuts:
  • "I think people will be happier, more optimistic."
  • "This particular tax reform plan will impact business investment specifically."
  • "I also wanna know my friends at the CBO have re-estimated huge amounts... 476 billion higher corporate tax receipts."

One fun thing: "They won't let me use my Twitter anymore... I can tweet on the government account. It's just not as fun."

Go deeper

White House says it expects federal contractors to be vaccinated by Dec. 8

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House said in new guidance Friday that it expects millions of federal contractors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus no later than Dec. 8.

Why it matters: Companies with federal contractors have been waiting for formal guidance from the White House before requiring those employees to get vaccinated, according to Reuters.

CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers

Rochelle Walensky listens during a confirmation hearing on July 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky on Friday reiterated her decision to go against a recommendation by a CDC advisory panel that refused to endorse booster shots for workers whose jobs put them at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

Driving the news: "Our healthcare systems are once again at maximum capacity in parts of the country, our teachers are facing uncertainty as they walk into the classroom," Walensky said at a Friday briefing. "I must do what I can to preserve the health across our nation."

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats release full text of Biden's $3.5T reconciliation package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday unveiled the full text of President Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending package.

Why it matters: Democrats are racing to finish negotiations and get the bill on the floor as soon as possible so Pelosi can fulfill her promises to both House centrists and progressives about the timing and sequencing of passing the party's dual infrastructure packages.

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