Kemp, Mitchell Shine at DLA Piper Summit

The two speakers at the lunch session during “What Comes Next: Opportunities, Risks and Rewards,” at the 2008 DLA Piper Global Real Estate Summit held Tuesday in Chicago, were a power pair indeed: Jack Kemp, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1996, and George

The two speakers at the lunch session during “What Comes Next: Opportunities, Risks and Rewards,” at the 2008 DLA Piper Global Real Estate Summit held Tuesday in Chicago, were a power pair indeed: Jack Kemp, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1996, and George Mitchell, former U.S. Senator (D-Maine) and currently global chairman of DLA Piper.The session’s title was “Stay Red? Go Blue? What November 4 Will Tell Us,” but the kickoff topic was the $700 billion federal bailout of the financial markets, aka TARP, or the troubled assets relief program. Though Kemp and Mitchell come from different political backgrounds, they agreed that such an initiative is essential right now.“We need a 21st-century RTC,” said Kemp, who was HUD Secretary when the Resolution Trust Corp. was formed in 1989 to handle the wreckage from the savings and loan crisis. “I say this as a Republican…. I don’t believe we can take a hands-off approach.”“The weight of the evidence,” said Mitchell, “is already quite clear that some action will be necessary.” He agreed with Kemp that strong oversight of the Treasury Secretary will be needed, and said he’s confident that Congress will insist on it. == And although the markets want a plan nailed down sooner rather than later, the former Senator emphasized that writing and debating the legislation shouldn’t be rushed. “Members of Congress have to commit themselves to spending enough time to make sure this gets done right.”Kemp recalled having proposed that capital-gains taxes be waived on properties bought from the RTC and said he thinks that incentives under TARP would similarly be a sound idea.Regarding concerns that the record-setting bailout could set a precedent for other troubled industries, Mitchell acknowledged the risk, but added, “I don’t think it’s a sufficient basis for saying we won’t do it.”On the issue of energy policy, both men drew a sharp distinction between “energy security” and “energy independence.” Both presidential candidates “are talking PC language,” Kemp charged, by implying that the U.S. can have true energy independence, that is, not need any foreign sources of energy, in 10 years or whatever other time frame.Kemp characterized T. Boone Pickens’ highly visible series of TV ads as simplistic. He noted, for example, that American dollars going overseas to pay for oil don’t all go to Arab-Moslem states, and that those dollars often come back to the U.S. economy. “Our exports have been the one part of the economy that’s been a big plus,” he noted, with exports rising significantly in the past 18 months.“America’s standing in the world,” Mitchell said, “is the lowest it’s ever been,” and for the next administration, “A major task will be to regain our moral status in the world.”Describing himself as “a dove, a heavily armed dove,” Kemp called for the next administration to partner with America’s European allies on a “21st-century Marshall Plan” to promote development in the Islamic world. He pointed out that U.S. foreign aid to Pakistan, for example, is outweighed by high import tariffs on Pakistani textiles.A member of the audience asked the presenters about the destructive lack of bipartisanship in Congress. Mitchell noted that political leaders for the most part tend to reflect the values and positions of their constituents, and added that severe partisanship is nothing new in American politics, citing the extremely close and divisive U.S. presidental election of 1800.Kemp traced much of the current toxicity in Congress to the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton. “That was a sad moment, and we haven’t gotten over it.”