Tags: Del Latta Reagan Budget Gizzi

Late Rep. Del Latta Made Reagan's Historic Budget Act a Reality

Late Rep. Del Latta Made Reagan's Historic Budget Act a Reality
 (AP file)

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Saturday, 14 May 2016 08:13 PM Current | Bio | Archive

When news of the death of former Ohio Republican Rep. Delbert Latta on late Friday night, reporters who covered the conservative lawmaker almost universally remembered him for the landmark legislation that bears his name: the Gramm-Latta budget bill, which contained the spending and tax cuts President Ronald Reagan wanted to stimulate the economy in 1981.

"Del Latta was one of the most anti-spending Republicans in the House," then-White House Counselor Ed Meese recalled in his book "With Reagan." As a longtime advocate for slashing federal spending and as the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, Latta was a natural to carry the ball in the House for Reagan’s agenda on reduced spending.

With the House in Democratic hands at the time, Latta was teamed up with then-Democratic Rep. Phil Gramm of Texas. When the revolutionary measure finally passed, angry Democratic leaders removed Gramm from his long-sought seat on the House Budget Committee. (He promptly switched to Republican, resigned from Congress and won his seat back in the resulting special election. He went on to serve as U.S. Senator from 1984 to 2002.)

Aside from his role in enacting the Reagan economic agenda and his serving on the House Judiciary Committee during the nationally-televised Watergate hearings in 1974, Latta remained the relatively quiet and studious figure he had been throughout his career.

A veteran of both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps reserve and graduate of Ohio Northern University Law School, the young Latta practiced and taught law at his alma mater. In 1952, he was elected to the state senate. Six years later, when veteran Republican Rep. Cliff Clevenger retired, Latta handily won his seat.

"Back before the House reimbursed members for weekly trips home, Dad made sure the whole family got back to Bowling Green (Ohio) as soon as Congress adjourned," his son, present Rep. Bob Latta of Ohio, told this reporter several years ago, "My mother and sister and I would pile into the family car and we'd drive the many hours it took to get from Washington to Bowling Green." (The younger Latta added that his father eventually decided to leave his family in his district and then shared an apartment on Capitol Hill with fellow Ohio GOP Rep. Sam Devine).

When Latta in 1988 retired, son Bob — then 30 years old and an attorney holding no office — decided to run for his seat. In a primary contest that took weeks to count, he lost by a microscopic 27 votes to State Senate President Paul Gillmor.

Following Gillmor’s death in 2007, Bob Latta — who had by then served in both the state House and Senate — won the primary and special election with little trouble.

Discussing his father’s declining health at the time, the younger Latta told me that Del Latta could not make it to Washington to see him sworn in to represent his former district.

"But, believe me," he said, "Dad sure was happy."

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John-Gizzi
When news of the death of former Ohio Republican Rep. Delbert Latta on late Friday night, reporters who covered the conservative lawmaker almost universally remembered him for the landmark legislation that bears his name: the Gramm-Latta budget bill, which contained the...
Del Latta Reagan Budget Gizzi
491
2016-13-14
Saturday, 14 May 2016 08:13 PM
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