Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Following up on yesterday's post, Death Of Ken Gideon: Michael Graetz (Columbia), Farewell To Ken Gideon:
During 1990 and 1991, Ken Gideon and I spent two long, dog-type years cheek by jowl at the Treasury when Ken was Assistant Secretary of Tax Policy and I served as his deputy. This period included, of course, preparation for and the negotiations over the bipartisan 1990 Budget Act which put the nation’s finances on a path to its first budget surpluses in a generation and ultimately cost George Herbert Walker Bush reelection. Ken Gideon possessed deep knowledge of the tax system, an awesome intellect, impressive judgment, and unquestionable integrity. He knew how to run an office and how to make decisions. Ken also understood perfectly the power of his office and its limits. His time at Treasury produced prodigious regulations, broad in scope and of vast impact. As I learned well, Ken Gideon had wide-ranging interests and was a great companion for conversation.
When he left me behind at the Treasury in January 1992, Ken -- always thoughtful in human affairs -- bid me “an affectionate farewell,” presenting me with Shelby Foote’s three-volume history of the Civil War. Ken and I often had lamented the polarization in Congress in the 1990s, so Ken’s not-so-subtle message was that things could be much worse. And so they became. Of course, Ken and I did not really bid one another “farewell” in 1992. We remained good friends—trying to talk sports rather than politics—until last Sunday when he left us all. An affectionate farewell indeed, my old friend.