Former United States Representative and presidential Cabinet Secretary Jack Kemp passed away yesterday at the age of 73. The conservative Republican represented Buffalo in Congress for nine terms before serving as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for President George H.W. Bush. Kemp was the GOP nominee for Vice President in 1996, with Robert Dole at the top of the ticket.
The National Football League Hall of Fame quarterback was best known for his promotion of supply-side economics. Indeed, Kemp was one of the prime sponsors of the revolutionary Reagan tax cut bill, known as Kemp-Roth (William Roth was a Republican Senator from Delaware). The tax cuts helped spark an economic prosperity that set a then-record for peacetime economic expansion, until the 1990-1991 recession, characterized by low inflation. However, like the 2001-2002 recession, the recession of the early 90s was brief and mild, meaning that the quarter century from 1982-2007 was a period of unprecedented prosperity. The tax cuts also increased revenue to the U.S. Treasury because of the economic growth they stimulated.
Kemp was also known for his strong support for civil rights for blacks, in the tradition of Lincoln and other early Republicans. He was pro-life and supported President Ronald Reagan's Cold War policies. As Secretary for Housing and Urban Development, Kemp promoted plans that weaned welfare recipients off subsidized rent toward home ownership. He was for many years a reliable, enthusiastic, optimistic spokesman for conservatism.
Jack Kemp's legacy is the many years of prosperity and liberty that proved that the conservative policies he championed were right. May he rest in peace.