Genelle Levy
March 07, 2018 7:25 am

Gary Cohn’s resignation from the White House is causing quite a stir. The former White House economic advisor may have quit due to a disagreement with the President over how taxation on aluminum and steel should be handled, though at this time that’s only speculative.

Cohn is the former president and COO of investment bank Goldman Sachs. He was key in assembling President Donald Trump’s controversial tax plan, and was a strong ally for business lobbyists in the White House. He was also the one of the richest members of the Trump administration: Gary Cohn’s net worth is estimated between $252 million and $611 million, according to the New York Times.

Cohn’s life story is the epitome of the “American Dream” (though, we’d be remiss not to note, an American Dream steeped in white privilege). The descendent of Polish immigrants, he grew up middle-class in Cleveland, Ohio. As a kid he struggled with dyslexia, and his parents were told that they would be lucky if he “grew up to be a truck driver.”  However, Cohn eventually attended American University, where he studied finance, real estate, and urban development. 

Cohn’s first job after graduating was selling aluminum at United States Steel in Akron, Ohio (one reason he’s so well briefed on steel trade). Shortly after that, Cohn reportedly convinced a well dressed businessman on Wall Street to share a cab with him, which landed him his first big interview. Cohn was eventually hired by Goldman Sachs, where he worked his way up over the course of 26 years to become president and COO. In 2016, President Trump announced that Cohn would be the director of his National Economic Council.  

Cohn, a prominent free trade advocate, told President Trump that his sweeping taxes on steel and aluminum would negatively impact American businesses, also arguing that heavier steel taxes could bring more job losses.