Saturday, May 02, 2009

RIP Jack Kemp

Former football star, congressman, presidential candidate, vice-presidential candidate, and cabinet secretary Jack Kemp died today. He was 73.

Kemp first gained fame as a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills in the American Football League. As a player he helped found the AFL Players Association and served as its president.

After football Kemp turned to politics, getting elected to Congress from the Buffalo area in 1970. Kemp was a supply-side economics supporter in Congress and was the co-author of the Kemp-Roth tax cuts legislation in 1978, widely seen as the beginning of the supply-side era that would flourish under President Reagan.

In 1988, Kemp ran unsuccessfully for president losing to Reagan's Vice President and successor George Bush. He was passed over by Bush for Vice President in favor of Senator Dan Quayle. (I was in New Orleans for the convention at the time of the announcement and had just purchased a Bush-Kemp button.) Kemp joined Bush's cabinent as the Secretary for Housing and Urban Development. Unfortunately, Kemp's efforts to enact a bold conservative domestic agenda was largely styied by the Bush loyalists.

In 1996, Senator Bob Dole chose Kemp as his running mate in an effort to shore up support among the conservatives who distrusted Dole's record on taxes.

Kemp will be remembered for his many conservative stands. He was a supporter of a strong military, an anti-communist, pro-life, anti gun control, and of course a champion of supply side economics.

Kemp was also a believer in taking the conservative message to to the cities where he advocated welfare reform, public housing privatization and enterprise zones.

May he rest in peace.