When I heard that Jack Kemp had been diagnosed with cancer, my immediate reaction was: Whatever odds he faces, Jack will beat them, just as he did as a journeyman quarterback leading the Buffalo Bills to two consecutive AFL championships in the 1960s, and just as he did as a back-bench congressman in the 1970s leading the GOP out the wilderness by transforming it from a green-eyeshade, austerity party to the pro-growth, tax-cutting party it became under Ronald Reagan. In the 1980s, the Kemp-Roth across-the-board tax cuts and the Kemp-Kasten “Fair and Simple Tax” were the catalysts for Reagan’s 1981 tax reductions and 1986 tax reforms.
In his statement yesterday, House GOP Leader John Boehner put it best: “Jack Kemp has inspired a generation of conservatives with his unyielding commitment to freedom and free-market policies.” Kemp, even more so than Reagan, inspired me as college student in the early 1980s to study economics and become involved in politics. To this day it amazes me that I not only met Kemp in 1984, but through the years became his friend and co-conspirator in advancing the pro-growth agenda.
Throughout his political career, Jack has especially focused on empowering the poor and broadening our party to include people of color. Just a few weeks ago, we were talking about co-authoring a column on how the working poor should have first claim on a portion of the Obama’s multi-billion-dollar stimulus plan — through enterprise zones and payroll-tax reduction, of course. (Jack, let’sgo forward and write it.)
Jack Kemp has been a transformational figure in the conservative movement and, God willing, will continue to help lead conservatives and Republicans out of the wilderness in the years ahead.
— Cesar Conda was Assistant for Domestic Policy to Vice President Cheney and a Senior Economic Advisor to Governor Mitt Romney during his presidential campaign.