- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Jude Wanniski, the man who helped make tax cuts the equivalent of a religious virtue among Republicans, died Monday of an apparent heart attack at a hospital in Morristown, N.J. He was 69.

As an editorialist for the Wall Street Journal and later as an economic consultant, Mr. Wanniski was credited with popularizing “supply-side” economics, a free-market philosophy that emphasized tax reductions, private investment and consumer spending as the keys to economic growth.

Mr. Wanniski’s ideas helped shape President Reagan’s policies and continue to influence the Republican Party.

“A true genius, he could be a scold, an agitator and a visionary,” Free Enterprise Fund Vice President Lawrence Hunter said yesterday. “Like Archimedes, he walked around with his supply-side lever under his arm, looking for a place to stand and a fulcrum around which to move the world.”

During the 1970s, Mr. Wanniski preached his concepts to Rep. Jack Kemp of New York and Sen. William Roth of Delaware, who jointly proposed them in the form of a 30 percent reduction in personal and corporate income taxes. Mr. Reagan, as candidate and then as president, championed the measure and signed the Kemp-Roth bill into law, in slightly modified form, in 1981.

Mr. Wanniski enjoyed telling how, in 1974, he turned President Ford’s chief of staff, Dick Cheney, into a supply-sider by explaining that if the government cut tax rates to an ideal point, it would receive more revenue by encouraging people to work, save and invest.

As Mr. Wanniski told it, he, Mr. Cheney and economist Art Laffer were at the Two Continents Restaurant in Washington when Mr. Laffer drew on a cocktail napkin a graph to show what became famous as the “Laffer Curve” showing the relationship between tax rates and tax revenue.

Last year, Mr. Wanniski said that as vice president, Mr. Cheney “has wielded a considerable supply-side stick, which accounts for the administration’s aggressive tax cutting.”

Raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Wanniski was a registered Democrat for much of his life, but was fired in 1978 from the Wall Street Journal for publicly handing out campaign material for a Republican political candidate.

That year, he founded Polyconomics Inc. “to advise corporate and financial strategists on the impact political and economic events would have on capital markets and on domestic and global economies.” Also in 1978, he published “The Way the World Works,” a book later described as the “economic blueprint” for the “Reagan economic revolution.”

Mr. Wanniski earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Los Angeles. He worked for a Las Vegas newspaper, then at the now-defunct National Observer, before joining the editorial writing staff of the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Wanniski is survived by his wife, Patricia Koyce Wanniski; three children; his mother; a sister; a brother; and a granddaughter.

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