A last open letter predicted policies would fail; Lincoln, arson attack on rich.
“Greetings, it’s me again, giving more advice….”
It was April 17, 2008, and Jack Kemp, the one-time Buffalo Bills quarterback turned congressman, presidential candidate, Bush 41 HUD Secretary and 1996 GOP vice presidential nominee, was at it again. This time, sadly, one of his last “in print” outings before his tragic early death from cancer just over a year later, he was writing an open letter in the Wall Street Journal to then-Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential aspirant Barack Obama.
On tax cuts.
And while he was at it, in typical Kemp style, reminding his fellow Republicans about the GOP’s heritage of economic growth — their legacy from party founder Abraham Lincoln.
Kemp has been recently identified in the six-part Fox News history of the conservative movement hosted by Brit Hume, The Right, All Along: The Rise Fall & Future of Conservatism, as the most important Republican of the late 20th century who never became president. He won that label not because of his titled political positions or a personality frequently understated as “ebullient.” The source of Kemp’s reputation came about because of an entirely unofficial title as the godfather of what is known as “supply-side economics.”
The fury from Democrats rises at what many of them see as an Obama sell-out over the Bush “tax cuts for the rich.” Kemp would surely be the very first to point out that preventing a tax increase for two years is not exactly a serious pro-growth Kemp supply-side policy, to say the least. One can even say that by doing the minimal — and that under extreme pressure from voters — the Obama White House is looking to blame supply-side economics without actually putting supply-side policy into place.
In other words, Obama is trying to say “I did what you asked and it didn’t work” if in fact there is no Reagan-Kemp style success from Obama’s bow to the Bush tax rate. But of course, no taxes have been cut at all. The Bush tax “cuts” are not cuts. They are, after all these years, what Kemp might call the static status quo. There is in the Obama acceptance of the Bush tax rate no serious dealing with the principles that were the spur to real economic growth, Reagan-Kemp style. Were this, say, 1492, Obama would be the flat earth president. Willing to sail under duress to the horizon as long as he could see the last visible geographical landmark — but no further. Why? Because Columbus or no Columbus, Reagan and Kemp or no Reagan and Kemp, science and fact be damned, Barack Obama and liberals at large still believe in the primitiveness that is the economic equivalent of believing in a flat earth.
The Kemp warning to Obama came in an article that was nominally about race. The fact of Obama’s African-American heritage had become something of an issue in his tightening tussle for the Democratic presidential nomination with then-New York Senator Hillary Clinton. But a conversation on race — or for that matter anything — with Kemp always ended up eventually as a discussion on his passionately held belief in economic opportunity.
And so that fine April morning, Journal readers were treated to yet another Kempian pitch on supply-side economics — this one directed personally to Senator Obama.
“In my opinion,” wrote Kemp in his open letter, “people of all colors and income levels don’t hate the rich. They want to get rich. They’re more interested in generating wealth than they are in redistributing wealth. They want to own property, educate their children and build a nest egg that can be passed on to their heirs.”
In a handful of sentences Kemp answered now-President Obama’s left-wing critics who have repeatedly spent their time — as has the President himself — demonizing the “rich.” A class warfare man Jack Kemp was decidedly not, and he was not hesitant in trying to politely tell Obama the politics of class warfare would eventually bring the country — and the Democrats — to grief. .
Kemp warned Obama that “you’ve pledged to raise income tax rates to 39.5% and capital gains to 28%, plus you want to return to a confiscatory 55% ‘death tax.’” In a line that sadly rings too true today as an “I-told-you-so” moment amidst the news of a 9.8% unemployment rate and angry, desperate demands to extend unemployment compensation at Christmas, Kemp directly addressed Obama by predicting: “Your economic ideas, sincere as they are, would weaken the economy, weaken the dollar, and weaken our chances of reducing poverty and unemployment.”
Jack Kemp was right.
Clearly, Kemp’s message was taken to heart by the GOP and the Tea Party in the 2010 elections as well — and the American people responded overwhelmingly. This is worth remembering as the so-called Obama-McConnell agreement meets its congressional fate this week, with Senate Democrats grudgingly signing on at the urging of not only Obama but former President Bill Clinton. The two presidents have stepped daintily if distastefully aboard the fenders of the Kemp idea after a career’s worth of doing everything they could to derail the American people’s access to capital, from massive health care bills to tax increases.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?