Tags: Jack | Kemp: | 'Loving | Critic' | the | GOP

Jack Kemp: A 'Loving Critic' of the GOP

Sunday, 16 April 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Jack Kemp is the irrepressible man. And almost everything he touches seems to turn to gold.

His football career became stellar, winning two American Football League Western Division championships with the Los Angeles - San Diego Chargers before being picked up by the Buffalo Bills.

He led Buffalo to three straight Eastern Division titles and two American Football League championships, in 1964 and 1965, and was the first 3,000 yard passer in the American Football League and 1965 league MVP.

Exiting sports, he ran for Congress and became the front man for Ronald Reagan's bold tax cuts – a.k.a. the 1981 Kemp-Roth tax cut. Some credit the Kemp inspired tax reduction for creating the greatest economic boom in American history. Kemp would eventually be tapped to be Bob Dole's vice presidential running mate in 1996.

In his third incarnation, Kemp has become a successful business man, involved with blue-chip corporations like Oracle. Today, his main platform is Kemp Partners, a premier Washington, D.C. consulting firm.

At 70 Kemp remains in remarkable shape and still has the nimble look of a quarterback peering downfield.

Recently, NewsMax chatted with with the man who fervently believes in "empowering" every American. When we recount his long resume and many achievements, Kemp lightens the moment with a shrug and quips, "Gee, this guy must be legend in his own mind!"

KEMP: Well, I have a lust for life - an inexorable belief in the power of ideas and inspiration and perspiration. It doesn't mean that you can be President or Vice-President, which I never made, but I have had three careers - one in professional football, one in the political world and now in the business world, and I have achieved more than I could have imagined.

KEMP: The Abramoff thing is just nauseating. It was a scandal waiting to happen - to have that much power in the hands of the Indian tribes, who could start casinos without any Federal tax consequence. Where there is government legislation inviting people to manipulate the law, you are going to get corruption from the left or from the right. So it's disappointing. It is disgusting, and a heck of a price is going to be paid.

It is not, however, in my opinion, going to cause the Republic Party to lose the Congress. I think the American people are wise enough to understand that if you punish the wrong doers, you don't punish a whole Party - left or right.

KEMP: I'll tell you what has changed - there is no dialogue across the political divide. When Bob Dole and I ran in 1996, we had good relations with the Democrats. I have always had good relations with many different Democrats.I have always had the understanding that you should be talking with and communicating with men and women of both political parties.

Today, there is no dialogue. I've begun holding poverty seminars with [former Senator and Democratic vice-presidential nominee] John Edwards of North Carolina. Now, he and I have a lot of disagreements, but we agree that poverty has to be made a national issue in order to get some enterprising solutions to the problems of poverty in America.

I don't hold myself out as a paragon of virtue by any stretch of the imagination, but I can't think of many Republicans who talk to Democrats or many Democrats who talk to Republicans. I think that is the biggest change - the lack of comity, the lack of willingness to work on issues of enormous importance to America and the world here in the 21st Century.

KEMP: George Allen is a great guy. I did a fundraiser for him up at the SuperBowl for his run for the Senate, and he and his wife, Susan, are good friends of ours. I knew his daddy. I played against his father in college and pro football. He coached Whittier College when I was quarterback at Occidental, so I have a long love affair with the Allen family and friendship with coach Allen and George Allen, Jr.

KEMP: No, it is too early. Not until after the '06 Congressional.

I think one of the most exciting things happening for me in the Republican Party is that we have so many African-American candidates running at the state and Federal level.

Keith Butler, a young minister from Detroit, is running for the U.S. Senate in Michigan. My ex-deputy [at HUD], Ken Blackwell, is running for Governor of Ohio. Lynn Swann, a hall of fame Pittsburgh Steeler, is running for governor of Pennsylvania. And another good friend of mine, Michael Steele is running for the U.S. Senate. He is just outstanding, and I really believe that if you will elect three or four national governors or senators, who are African-American, it will finally make the Republican Party come back to its roots, which were Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas.

We were the party of the African-American community. We have a great history. We walked away from it. The Democrat Party had a horrible history and overcame it. I don't think that the Republican Party can truly be whole until African-Americans feel comfortable in the Republican Party.

KEMP: No. I'm 70 years old. I'm having my 17th grandchild as we speak, and I'm in my third career, and I want to make that a success.

KEMP: Well, I'm not a screamer. You know, I'm not quite at the point of calling Bush a traitor, as some are. I think that is over the top. I think that the Medicaid, the Medicare Prescription Bill was a huge mistake, and, certainly, ‘No Child Left Behind' is a Federal intrusion into education at all levels.

I really had some questions about having the Federal government involving itself in local education, which I always thought was a state and local responsibility. But I don't like the criticism of Bush that is coming from some of my old friends like Bruce Bartlett [author of "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America"].

I think Bush, you know, is going through a tremendously challenging time for our country, and social spending has increased, but I keep my eye on the ultimate goal of a growing economy. Grow the economy and make the economy replace that need for spending... I'm a loving critic. You know, I love the Republic Party but I'm going to retain my loving criticism.

KEMP: I think he [Bush] has been courageous in that part of it. I think he learned from the empirical evidence as to the efficacy of reducing tax rates on both labor and capital. Don't forget, when you cut the income tax rate across the board, you are not only cutting the tax rate for upper income people, you are lowering the tax rate for labor as well.

Workers don't work for pre-taxed income. They work for after-tax income. So an across the board rate reduction -- whether it is John F. Kennedy's or Ronald Reagan's, or George Bush's -- lowers the cost of labor and capital and causes a growing economy. I think we have proven that empirically.

KEMP: That the world can achieve a more peaceful resolution of its problems with open trade.

I was opposed to the xenophobia recently where Congress turned down the Dubai Ports World's purchase of a British company that was managing six U.S. ports.

I'm against Congress punishing China for linking the Yuan to the United States dollar.

I'm was reading this morning about [Sen.] Chuck Shummer telling the Chinese that they are artificially manipulating the Chinese currency because the Chinese currency is tied to the United States dollar and if they don't unhinge it, we are going to put a 27 percent tax on everything coming in from China.

I am against what those two things represent, and I am for global peace through global trading.

KEMP: I would say Habitats for Humanity, where I have been on the board for a decade or so. As the Secretary of HUD [Housing and Urban Development] under Bush 41 in 1989, I went down to see Coretta Scott King at the King Center in Atlanta and went out to the little town of Dr. King's birth. We were dedicating a habitat home there to a young African-American woman with two children.

This young woman, who had put hundreds of hours of ‘sweat equity' into her home, finally got the ownership symbol -- the keys to the front door.

Her children were standing there, and it was just a beautiful sight, and the press rather cynically asked her, in front of everybody, would this house look as good in 15 years as it as it did that day?

I will never forget her answer. She said, ‘It will look better. First of all it is not a house, it is my home, and secondly I own it. It's the first thing I have ever owned in my life and, of course, it will look better in 15 years...'

All I could think, you know, was how that was the universal voice of pride of ownership speaking through that young woman's mouth.


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WASHINGTON -- Jack Kemp is the irrepressible man. And almost everything he touches seems to turn to gold. His football career became stellar, winning two American Football League Western Division championships with the Los Angeles - San Diego Chargers before being picked...
Sunday, 16 April 2006 12:00 AM
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