The new book Jack Kemp: The Bleeding Heart Conservative Who Changed America, by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes, is the topic of my column this week:
the most fascinating part of the story is the role played by another former professional athlete, Bill Bradley, a Democrat and a senator from New Jersey who used to play for the New York Knicks.
Messrs. Kondracke and Barnes report that Mr. Bradley read Milton Friedman and that he disliked the tax code because of "the gyrations he and other athletes went through to avoid taxes." In August of 1982, Mr. Bradley and, of all people, Rep. Richard Gephardt introduced a bill reducing the number of tax brackets to three from 14 and reducing the top rate to 30 percent from 50 percent.
The Democratic presidential candidate, Walter Mondale, rejected the plan. Then came a poolside dinner at Jack Kemp's house in Bethesda, Maryland, where the writer and policy intellectual Irving Kristol "stunned the group by suggesting Republicans simply adopt and cosponsor Bradley-Gephardt."
The book says Kemp and Mr. Bradley, as the "leading proponents" of tax reform, "made numerous joint appearances — not acting as rivals, but as collaborators."