Senator Bill Roth of Delaware, My Hero!
Jude Wanniski
July 24, 2000


To: The Wilmington News Journal
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Wishing I could vote in Delaware

How surprised I was to read in my local newspaper last weekend that Senator Bill Roth is trailing in the public opinion polls in his re-election campaign. Of all the 535 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, there is not one who deserves more credit than Bill Roth for the boom on Wall Street and the glorious expansion of the American economy. I am not kidding.

As one of the original “supply-side” Reaganauts, I was present at the creation of the boom, which began with the Kemp-Roth tax legislation that Senator Roth introduced with New York Rep. Jack Kemp in 1976. (Actually, Jack always referred to it as the “Roth-Kemp bill.”) It was Roth-Kemp that became the foundation of the Reagan Revolution and the economic expansion that continues to this day. Imagine if the top rate on incomes were still 70% and the capital-gains tax almost 50% as it was when the two Republican friends designed that legislation to cut tax rates by a third.

I’m not a partisan -- as witness the fact that I supported Sen. Robert Torricelli [D-NJ] in his Senate campaign in my state, because he has followed in the footsteps of Bill Roth in his dedication to economic growth. With Jack Kemp gone from Congress, though, Senator Roth remains as vigorous and as passionate in his desire to produce that “rising tide that lifts all boats,” as the fame and popularity of his Roth IRAs will testify.

As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Bill worked ceaselessly to improve the design of the Roth IRA, which now enables ordinary Americans to invest after-tax incomes of certain annual amounts without having to worry about having to pay any tax at all on their value upon retirement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average would easily be a thousand points lower today if it were not for this escape valve from our hideously complex tax code, which strangles investment in many ways.

I’m sure Senator Roth’s youthful opponent is an able man who one day should occupy national office, but at 79 years of age, Bill Roth is more important than ever in his wisdom and capacity to shape national economic policy. Last week’s overwhelming vote in the House to expand the Roth IRA to $5,000 and remove income caps was an awesome celebration of Senator Roth’s ingenuity. His special insight eluded me and it eluded Jack Kemp, but it did not elude the American people -- who nudged all but 25 members of the House to vote for the expansion -- all 25 being Democrats, by the way.

If it is true that Bill Roth’s seat is in jeopardy because the younger people of Delaware think he is too old for the job, they cannot know the extent of his importance to the nation. He is truly a national asset and will be in the 107th Congress, if he is returned. How I wish I were a citizen of Delaware so I could vote for him. I’m sorry this letter is the best I can do for him.