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Jack Kemp; OBITUARY.

IN THE depths of a worldwide recession, the debate is as lively as ever as to where its roots lie.

Are we reaping the whirlwind of the economic changes pioneered in the Reagan and Thatcher years, or is the problem that the experiment has not been seen through? In America, Jack Kemp took the latter view. As a Congressman in the 1970s, he had been a champion of deep tax cuts to stimulate the economy, and the philosophy that was to make him an influential figure in the 1980s, and he was to travel right to the door of the White House as Vice-Presidential candidate in 1996.

His international reputation stemmed almost entirely from his political career, but to Americans he was equally famous, if not more so, as a footballer - American football, that is, not soccer.

He was born in Los Angeles, where his father ran a haulage company. He graduated in physical education, and, after a stuttering start to his career as a professional sportsman he joined the Buffalo Bills, which he led to two American Football League titles in 1964 and 1965.

He had been studying politics and economics in his spare time, and, after his retirement from sport in 1969, he stood for Congress in 1970 with heavy backing from the then president Richard Nixon and his vicepresident, Spiro Agnew.

By the late 1970s, he was a champion of keeping taxes right down. He sponsored a bill to cut federal taxes by 30% over three years, and, although it was defeated, the philosophy behind it had taken root.

Economically, he was close to Ronald Reagan, but socially he was far more liberal, at one time with the Buffalo Bills prepared to boycott a game in New Orleans in protest against the treatment of black players in the city's night clubs.

He was Bob Dole's running mate in 1996, losing to Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

After that, he took a back seat in politics, but remained active on the lecture circuit and the author of papers advancing his economic beliefs.

Jack Kemp, sportsman and politician; born, July 13, 1935, died, May 3, 2009
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:May 8, 2009
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