Sunday, May 3, 2009

An Era Comes to an End: Jack Kemp 1935-2009

Jack Kemp, former star football player, former Congressman, former Vice Presidential Candidate and Architect of the Reagan Tax cuts died of Cancer on Saturday.

In 1957, Kemp was drafted in the 17th round of the Football draft by the Detroit Lions. This was in the days when the Lions were actually winning championships. In fact, I believe that 1957 was the last time the Lions won the championship. Kemp became the first in a long line of Lion players and coaches that went on to greatness after leaving Detroit.

After a couple of years playing for the Chargers, first of Los Angeles, then San Diego, Kemp was injured. His coach tried to hide him on the waiver rolls, but the Buffalo Bills found him and ended up getting him for the cost of $100. That $100 investment, got the Bills a top quarterback who led them to two championships and who made the all star team 7 out of 8 years, with one of those years having only played in four games. As a player, Kemp began the AFL players union and served as its' head.

As a member of the Army Reserves, he was called to active duty during the riots, but due to injuries was turned down. He was also drafted for the Vietnam War in 1962, but again, he was not fit for duty due to football injuries. The United States Army wouldn't take him, but football did and he excelled.

Kemp retired from football when he ran for and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a member of the House he became a strong advocate for tax cuts, saying each time that taxes were cut they were followed by increased economic activity. He was the architect of the Reagan Tax cuts in the 80's and is credited with the longest period of economic growth due to those tax cuts.

Kemp was also a strong supporter of civil rights, began the concept of enterprise zones and was a strong advocate for personal ownership of public housing. He urged the poor to work towards buying their rental properties. Fought toe to toe to stop the Great Society saying it would only hold back black Americans rather than inspire them to improve their lives. While he wasn't a part of the Rosa Parks movement he was of the group following and supported Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and counted among his close friends, Andrew Young, Coretta Scott King, John Lewis and others. Kemp was a strong advocate for creating a Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.

Jack Kemp was considered as Vice Presidential material by Ronald Reagan, before George H. W. Bush was chosen. He was also considered as Bush's running mate in 1988. The Conservative to Bush's more moderate positions, but Bush chose Dan Quayle. In Bush's re-election bid, it's said that the Republicans wanted Bush to replace Quayle with Kemp to offset the popularity of H. Ross Perot which was drawing people from Bush. Again, though Bush stuck with Quayle.

In 1996, Kemp ran for President, then dropped out and endorsed Steve Forbes candidacy as a flat tax proponent. Despite this, the eventual nominee, Robert Dole chose Kemp as his running mate which eventually lost to Bill Clinton for his second term.

Kemp again ran in 2000 for the Presidency, but dropped out early and endorsed George W. Bush who was an early supporter of Kemps tax cutting philosophy. Those tax cuts eventually led to another economic growth boom following the attacks on September 11, 2001 until late 2007.

Kemp has been an inspirational speaker with the ideas to back them up. While he didn't worry about balancing the budget, his tax cutting ideas when implemented, proved both times that it leads to economic growth. The Reagan Tax Cuts, which were written by Jack Kemp and the Bush tax cuts, which were spurred by Jack Kemps advocacy for tax cuts creating the economic boom.

Jack Kemp didn't make it about him. It was always about the people. He wanted black Americans to succeed and encouraged growth and ownership. He wanted the American people to succeed, and proved how to do it with his tax cutting ideas that were implemented twice. He also advocated for immigration as well as giving illegal aliens the opportunity to become legal citizens.
In typical fashion, it was announced that Kemp was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2009 but the exact nature of the cancer, nor the prognosis were disclosed. On May 2, he lost his battle with cancer. The fiscal conservatives lost a strong voice for economic growth, black Americans lost a civil rights leader from the second wave of civil rights advocates, and the country lost a true man of the people.

You're welcome to comment.


1 comment:

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