Jack Kemp, RIP

by Sandy Ikeda

I was a student at Hillsdale College when the Congressman from New York gave a speech there, probably in 1976 or 77.  I remember little about the speech itself — probably touting tax cuts and supply-side economics — except that at one point he held up a copy of Human Action and praised its author, Ludwig von Mises. I was thrilled!  His NYT obit is here.

7 thoughts on “Jack Kemp, RIP

  1. It is a long tradition to be inhibited about speaking ill of the dead (especially the recently passed away). Nevertheless, since Jack Kemp was a poltical figure, some balance might be a good idea. Yes,he was for tax cuts but he rarely, if ever, advocated reductions in government spending. He liked to be seen as compassionate — perhaps he was the original “compassionate conservative.” But he should have made clear the difference between being compassionate with one’s own resources and being “compassionate” with other people’s resources. On the other hand, I was favorably impressed when I saw him on TV this past fall standing next to John McCain who was giving an anti-greed, anti-Wall Street tirade. Kemp started out applauding but then as McCain got “crazier and crazier” Kemp applauded less and less, until he stopped altogether. And then slowly moved outside of the camera range as if he was embarrassed by the whole thing. Good move. Ave atque vale.

  2. It’s hard for me to speak well of ANY politician, Kemp included. I was just recounting how, in my youth, I got a rise out of a national figure saying — and as I recall he did say — that he’d read Human Action and agreed with it.

  3. You’re right though, Mario, that supply-side economics was about how to boost tax revenues by lowering tax rates and broadening the tax base.

  4. Jack Kemp had his limitations as a politician, but he wasn’t a leftist and he did have an instinctive understanding of the importance of the market and private enterprise. There were hundreds and thousands of politicians worse than Jack Kemp.

    Kemp read Hayek’s _The Constitution of Liberty_ while a student at Occidental in the 1960s, and was influenced by it. My understanding is that he was essentially “self taught” as a vulgar “proto-Austrian” — a football player who escaped a mainstream leftist/Democrat mindset largely on his own.

    That is not nothing.

  5. I always thought Kemp was head and shoulders above other politicians. I appreciated his outreach to blacks. It is my impression that Kemp’s outreach was pretty much shut down because “they don’t vote for us.” And yet some people think the Republicans are better supporters of liberty than the Democrats. With the notable exception of Kemp and a few others, I can’t really see that one.

  6. Kemp was a supply-sider? Oh well, that’s one more nail in his coffin.

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