I asked Mr. Roberts why Kemp would have such pictures in his office. He replied: “Jack says it keeps him humble.”
The authors credit Kemp with persuading Ronald Reagan in 1980 to make his tax-cut bill, “Kemp Roth,” a centerpiece of economic policy and the basis of Reaganomics, with its main features incorporated into the Economic Recovery and Tax Act of 1981. As a result, in that year the top tax rate dropped to 50 percent from 70 percent, and in 1986 to 28 percent, with middle-income taxpayers enjoying similar reductions.
These Reagan-Kemp tax cuts, write the authors, “set off an economic boom that lasted into the 2000s” — a boom that blew away the remnants of President Carter’s “malaise,” boosted morale at home and restored our standing abroad, laying the economic groundwork for the ultimate defeat of the Soviet Union and a renewed belief in democratic capitalism.
“The achievements of the 1980s were mainly Reagan’s,” the authors write, “but their economic underpinning was Kemp‘s.”
Pete Wehner has a brief post today at Commentary about the new book about Jack Kemp:
One of the defining qualities of Kemp, with whom I worked in the 1990s when I was policy director at Empower America, was his belief in the power of ideas to shape history. Jack was a self-taught man, reading books by Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman while simultaneously being a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. He devoured books on Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. And everyone he met who didn’t share his views was seen as a potential convert. Jack believed the only thing that could prevent him from converting someone was the lack of time.
One sensed with Jack that he was primarily involved in politics not to gain power for its own sake or to satisfy his ego, though he certainly had a healthy one, but because he cared so much about ideas. He was fearless in promoting them and impressively immune to pressure, either when his ideas became less fashionable (as he showed on illegal immigration, when the GOP moved away from the Kemp and Reagan views) or when pressure was applied by the White House (as it was in the 1980s, when Kemp was in Congress and opposed Reagan’s tax hikes, and in the 1990s, when he was in the George H.W. Bush Cabinet yet opposed the president’s tax increase). This quarterback was not for turning.
This morning, Larry Kudlow on his radio show interviewed Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes about their book, Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America.
This morning we see the cover of the upcoming issue of The Weekly Standard. The story, The Kemp Era, by Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke, is a brief offering of some of the content of their recent book about Jack Kemp.
When Republicans became the party of growth and tax cuts
Excerpt from article:
Indeed, a dramatic beginning had been made. Kemp had gone from being a newcomer to a driving force in the party. He was building a national reputation. He hadn’t achieved his goals, but he was advancing a revolutionary bill. The question now was whether he or another candidate would carry his radical ideas forward into the highest office in the country.
‘Jack should run for president. The future of Western civilization depends on it!” Jude Wanniski, ever volatile and Kemp’s biggest supporter, voiced this opinion at a gathering of Kemp supporters as the 1980 primaries approached. He was hyperbolic, but not alone in his conviction. In 1978, Irving Kristol told journalist Martin Tolchin that Republicans didn’t want another Ford-Reagan race and were ready to move on to a new generation, with Kemp “the best able to communicate with the American people.” Former CBS president Frank Shakespeare, ex-Reagan policy adviser Jeff Bell, and former ambassador Larry Silberman began commissioning polls and plotting strategy. Ronald Reagan was considered the top contender for the nomination, but the supply-siders weren’t convinced he could be trusted. He certainly wouldn’t be more faithful to the cause than Jack Kemp.
Kemp had been the Republican star of 1978, and he spent 1979 tirelessly evangelizing for his tax-cut plan. But he gave his presidential boosters no serious encouragement. He wanted to support Reagan for president. The only question was whether Kemp-Roth rate cuts would be the centerpiece of Reagan’s campaign. If Reagan committed, Kemp would be on board. In the meantime, he kept his options open, worrying Reagan’s people that he might run for the nomination and at least cut into Reagan’s support.
Read the entire article here.
David Smick is out with the first major book review of the new book about Jack Kemp. Take a look at his review in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal, it’s online tonight.
Kemp detested Nixon’s ‘Southern Strategy,’ which he defined as ‘not even asking blacks to vote for you for fear of losing white voters.’
Excerpt of review:
There is a renewed interest in Kemp today. Having alienated minority voters, the GOP is flirting with a presidential lockout if it can’t appeal to the working class. Yet during the two recent GOP primary debates, there was almost no mention that economic mobility has collapsed, that a majority of the country is living little more than paycheck to paycheck, or that the stock-market gains from the Federal Reserve’s zero-interest rate policy have gone largely to the top 1%. Kemp would have pounced on these issues, and he would have tried to develop a capital ownership plan to let everyone ride the financial wave.
Kemp believed in a working man’s capitalism of robust entrepreneurship that cut across ethnic lines. He thought Republicans had a responsibility to address inner-city despair, and in the early 1980s he championed urban-enterprise-zone legislation (tax incentives to encourage inner-city business startups). “Like the Good Shepherd, America must reach out to the weak and to those who have been left behind,” Kemp said when announcing his 1988 presidential run.
Read the entire review here.