Cultural Revolutions

The Kemp-Darman Battle

Jack Kemp was the great champion of freedom, according to official conservatives, whereas Dick Darman was the "Prince of Darkness." In fact, whatever was wrong with Darman (President Bush's budget director), Kemp was far worse.

The Kemp-Darman battle came down to this: Kemp, a leftist Republican, constantly sought to expand the budget for his "war on poverty," and Darman, a moderate with twice Kemp's IQ, was sometimes able to stand in his way. For example, Kemp's HOPE (Homeownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere) program for the semi-privatization of public housing was costing more than $100,000 per unit. According to Jason DeParie's "Kemp Loses the War on Poverty" in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Darman pointed out that it would be cheaper to buy poor blacks their own condos, causing a temper tantrum from Kemp. But even Darman didn't point out—as Jeffrey A. Tucker did in Chronicles—that the units were not really sold to their tenants, since tenants could not in turn sell them on the open market. Worse, a new unit of public housing had to be built for each one "sold." Darman did note that "enterprise zones" were simply excuses for more welfare spending, and that state-level zones hadn't worked. And Darman warned Kemp not to call them "opportunity zones" as he wanted to do, or people would be making fun of...

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