Breaking: Jack Kemp has Died


Via Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review’s The Corner, Jack Kemp has died. He was 73 years old.

I’ll update as I get more information.

Update: If you only read one thing about Jack, make it this one: The Importance of Jack Kemp. Here’s a portion:

“When you tax something you get less of it, and when you reward something you get more of it.”

With that simple exhortation — and this is a man born to exhort — Jack Kemp changed his party, changed his country and, ultimately, changed the world.

He had some help, of course. Ronald Reagan, notably. Robert Bartley and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. The late Jude Wanniski, one-time member of the WSJ board and author of The Way the World Works. Arthur Laffer, he of the famous Laffer Curve. Others. A number of distinguished others.

Yet for an idea to revolutionize the way the world thinks and works, in the American system it helps if one holds elective or appointed office. Elected as a Congressman from the unlikely world-changing precincts of Buffalo, New York, where he had come to fame as the quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, Kemp evolved into the enthusiastic godfather of what became known as “Reaganomics.” or, in its other, equally familiar designation, “supply-side” economics…

With what Washington would eventually realize was the typical Kemp passion, Kemp took an idea about tax cuts and made of it a gospel. In legislative form it became what was called Kemp-Roth, named respectively after Kemp the House sponsor and Delaware GOP Senator William Roth, its Senate champion. At its core, the idea proposed to slash personal income tax rates — and cut them big time by 30 percent over three years. It was 1978, the middle of the Carter malaise years, and after what Bartley calls a “stormy debate” the bill failed in a conference committee. Kemp kept going. By 1980 he had convinced candidate Ronald Reagan, and the concept was written into the 1980 Republican platform. By August of 1981 President Ronald Reagan was signing Kemp’s cause into law. By 1983, the American economy had begun to shake off recession and, in a startling reversal, roared to life. The results were so powerful that Reagan later said France’s Socialist President François Mitterrand, Reagan’s guest at the 1983 Williamsburg G-7 Summit, wanted to know just exactly what went into America’s blossoming and quite vivid economic growth.

Update II: The Heritage Foundation issued a statement:

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2009–Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner tonight issued the following statement on the death of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp:

“Jack Kemp was a leader – whether it was in a football huddle, a national political campaign or a policy discussion about the Austrian school of economics.

“I first met Jack nearly 40 years ago, during his freshman year in Congress. When he introduced The Jobs Creation Act – a major legislative advance of supply-side economics – I knew I had found an ally. That ally soon became my friend

“Jack was a ‘bleeding-heart conservative.’ He wanted to make it possible for every American to succeed and eagerly worked with people of all races, colors and creeds toward that end.

“Across-the-board tax cuts and ‘enterprise zones’ for blighted neighborhoods are now common economic prescriptions – especially during these hard times. But to make these ideas respectable, Jack had to fight for them constantly during his years in Congress, as Housing and Urban Development secretary, as chairman of a national tax reform commission, and during his presidential and vice presidential campaigns.

“He won those fights, and millions benefited. The tax cuts that Jack helped engineer in the 1980s gave Americans unprecedented prosperity for decades. His commission also boldly proposed a national flat tax. Those policies also helped spread freedom around the world.

“I remember standing with him in Moscow’s Red Square in 1990. The Cold War was starting to thaw, but few even suspected that the Soviet Union’s days were numbered. Jack knew. As we stood on the square, in view of the Kremlin, he pointed out an astonishing sign: The line for the new McDonald’s restaurant was longer than the line for Lenin’s tomb.

“Many people will remember Jack as a great football player – and rightly so. But he was also a great player in the world of ideas, with a mind as strong as his arm. I will miss his strength and friendship greatly.”

RIP, Jack.

Update III: Andrew Malcolm has more at Top of the Ticket:

Moments ago the Kemp family released a statement:

Jack Kemp passed peacefully into the presence of the Lord shortly after 6 o’clock this evening, surrounded by the love of his family and pastor, and believing with Isaiah, “My strength and my courage is the Lord.”

During the treatment of his cancer, Jack expressed his gratitude for the thoughts and prayers of so many friends, a gratitude which the Kemp family shares.

His condition had been declining rapidly since the announcement and friends knew the end was near for the devoted politician and father, known fondly for breaking off Friday business meetings to fly overnight to watch his two boys, Jeff and Jimmy, also quarterbacks, play college or pro football on the weekend.

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