President Kemp?

November 12, 1991

It was astonishing to see Housing and Urban Development chief Jack Kemp lecturing President Bush the way a British schoolmaster might berate an errant pupil who hadn't studied his economics lesson. Even though Bush had expressly rejected a quick-fix tax cut deal with Congress a few days earlier, Kemp went on national TV Sunday to tell the president in effect to give the nation another dose of Kemp-Roth supply side economics.

This same theme had been trumpeted earlier in the week by the Wall Street Journal, which proclaimed that what the country needs is another "Reagan decade."

Remember, this is the crowd that quadrupled the national debt and made interest payments alone the second-largest item in the federal budget, after defense. What would another Reagan decade based on such economic fantasy bring us? Well, if the same pattern prevailed for another 10 years, the national debt at the turn of the century would be $16 trillion, and the interest payments would be roughly equal to all federal revenues from all sources this year -- well over $1 trillion a year.

In context, Kemp's dramatic lecture to the president can only be seen as the opening shot in his own presidential campaign -- in 1996 for certain, conceivably even in 1992 if Bush doesn't shape up. Frankly, the country might be better off if Kemp would mind his own store and not try to run everyone else's. As far as we can tell, he cannot claim a single achievement in his two-year tenure as HUD chief other than a few photo opportunities converting public housing projects into ersatz condos.

As for President Kemp -- well, the country would do better with the Wizard of Oz.

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