A Chat With Jack Kemp

A message of hope amid the gloom.


I am sick of the negativity out there right now. So what better way to dispel the gloom as we head toward Christmas than a few words from the always optimistic Jack Kemp, the 1996 GOP vice presidential candidate? (Efharisto to U.S. News superintern Matt Bandyk, who did the interview.)

What explains the period of sustained growth the United States has enjoyed over the past 25 years?

[Federal Reserve Chairman Paul] Volcker wringing inflation out of the economy, Reagan's tax cuts, bringing down the capital-gains rate, reduction of regulatory barriers. Those policies, coupled with growth of countries like China, Brazil, Ireland—you have a tremendous new world of opportunities that are helpful as markets for U.S. exports.... And Clinton, too.... He signed welfare reform, got NAFTA through. And he signed capital-gains-tax cuts. I can't understand why the Democratic parties seem so hostile to economic growth and business. Kennedy was pro-business and pro-growth. What policies would most diminish growth?

The soak-the-rich schemes. I never met a poor person who wanted to soak the rich; they want to get rich. Having said that, the thing that concerns me most is the almost anticapitalistic mentality of the left—and the inability of the right to explain the nature of our economy. I am shocked that Republicans can't explain why our technological and economic advantages are the result of sound monetary and economic policy. What about America’s ability to compete with China and Europe? Some worry that we’re losing an innovative edge because of greater investment in research, science, and training in other countries.

There's always cause for concern if bad policies are pursued. If proper policies are pursued, if we don't make erroneous decisions policywise, I see no reason China or western Europe should get an edge on the U.S.