A Kemp-Roth Leadership Litmus Test
In 1977, Democrats had a 149-seat majority in the House (292-143), 61 votes in the Senate, and Jimmy Carter as president. The country was in decline. It was the worst economy since the Depression, far worse than it is today. The mainstream economists and the DC establishment were woefully unable to deal with the defining issue of that era: inflation. If there was ever a time to despair, it was then.
Jack Kemp, serving just his 4th term, didn’t sit on a committee relevant to economic policy, yet is the namesake of the most consequential (in a positive way) legislation in perhaps 50 years. Kemp proposed across the board tax cuts, knowing a surging economy would help tame inflation. Kemp was not deterred by the Democrat’s stronghold, nor fazed by the establishment saying his views were outside the mainstream. What did he do? How did he do it? And, importantly, what can we learn that is relevant to the selection of the next Speaker of the House?
- Attempt #1: February 23, 1977
Kemp offered his "across-the-board tax reduction for every American" as a substitute to the first budget resolution for...