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Jack Kemp, R.I.P.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's always sad when one of the generally acknowledged good guys of the ideological wars dies. Jack Kemp lost his battle with cancer on Saturday. He was 73.

Once a standout quarterback for the Buffalo Bills -- in 1957 he played four games for the Pittsburgh Steelers -- Mr. Kemp became even better known as the nine-term Republican congressman of New York. He was Bob Dole's running mate in the 1996 presidential election.

Kemp was the fellow who, along with Sen. William Roth, R-Del., gave Ronald Reagan not only the intellectual underpinning but practical basis for cutting tax rates in 1981. He was arguably one of the most important people in the modern conservative movement.

Yes, sometimes he was too academic. But credit Kemp with selling President Reagan on the quite valid theory that tax-rate cuts create the rising tides that lift all boats. In the process, greater economic opportunities and, thus, greater economic independence are possible for all.

Contrary to the liberal drumbeat, it works -- if spending is controlled and the effort is not diluted. It's a lesson not many Democrats can comprehend. Unfortunately, too few congressional Republicans mastered the tutorial.

Jack Kemp understood that the more economic freedom there is, the more liberty there is. And economic liberty is the greatest emancipator known to man. Rest in peace, Congressman.

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