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Recalling the Reagan-Kemp Vision

May 19, 2014 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

What is the Republican Party’s vision for America? You may have a hard time answering other than “not President Obama and his policies.”

Most Republicans plan to run their fall campaigns focusing on the Obama scandals — admittedly a target-rich area — with scandals involving Obamacare, Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service and Veterans Affairs. All of this is not a vision of the future, though. It is hard to build a consensus — but smart, strong-minded individuals in the past have been able to articulate a vision that attracted not only the public but other politicians. Ronald Reagan accomplished this, and he was fortunate to have a visionary economic evangelist by his side who helped shape much of the Reagan program and became its principal salesman. His name was Jack Kemp — who passed away five years ago.

The nation’s current pessimistic mood calls for rational and optimistic candidates like Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp.”

Kemp later sought the presidency, but it escaped his grasp. As a former professional football quarterback, he was better at formulating a winning strategy and passing the ball than scoring himself. This past Friday, the Jack Kemp Foundation held a forum at the Lincoln Cottage in Washington on “The Future of the American Idea.” The many noted speakers reminded us that Jack (before Newt Gingrich) was the Republican Party’s and, in many ways, the nation’s, leading idea man.

In the 1970s as a junior member of Congress, he sought to identify the solutions to the Carter “malaise” of no-growth and high inflation. He found the solution in the writings and speeches of two remarkable economists — Bob Mundell (who went on to win a Nobel Prize) and Art Laffer (of the Laffer Curve fame). Their prescription was major marginal tax rate cuts to spur economic growth and sound money — and if not a return to gold, at least a turn-off of the monetary flood — to stop inflation. Kemp, a most energetic and articulate speaker with the enthusiasm of a revival preacher, sold the vision wherever and whenever he was allowed to speak. Reagan agreed with the tax program and largely adopted it as his own. Reagan would quip to us young economists that he did not have to unlearn Keynesian economics, for he “had obtained his degree in economics before Keynes wrote his book.”

Jack Kemp was obsessed with economic growth. He correctly saw it as the major solution to the lack of opportunity that many young people, and …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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