Former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn this week appeared on the official “Freakonomics” podcast to discuss his time in the White House, and he once again went out of his way to describe the president’s economic ignorance.
In particular, Cohn said he had trouble convincing the president on the virtues of solar power as the energy technology of the future — and he said that the president was unpersuaded by the fact that solar now employs more Americans than the coal industry.
“I remember vividly having a conversation with the president on coal jobs versus solar-panel installers,” he said. “We ended up putting tariffs on solar panels, which I didn’t understand either. And I did turn to him one day and I said, ‘Mr. President, how many coal miners do we have in the United States and how many solar-panel installers do we have?’ And I said, ‘I’m not here to trick you up — the answer’s — I’ll make it simple: less than 50,000 coal miners in the United States and more than 350,000 solar-panel installers.”
Cohn went on to explain that Trump’s love affair with coal had much more to do with the appeal to nostalgia in key swing states where coal mining communities have been hurt by the rise alternative sources of energy such as natural gas and renewables.
“He understood in West Virginia, and southern Ohio and Pennsylvania, you better go talk about coal,” he said. “And he understood in certain steel towns, when he looked at the empty steel mills, he should talk about bringing back steel jobs.”