Does Kemp Want Out?

Is Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp angling to be ousted from the cabinet? Kemp defends his outspoken campaign for a middle-class tax cut, in opposition to current White House policy, as part of the "friendly and vigorous debate" over the timing of an administration tax-cut package. But budget director Richard Darman says the only debate is between Kemp and the rest of the cabinet an the issue is not over "timing" but whether there should be any tax cut at all. "I think Kemp's just trying to get himself fired," says a top administration official.

Kemp's not likely to get his wish. Bush's men don't want to make a martyr of Kemp and enhance his profile for a possible presidential bid in 1996. Further, sources say, the president still values him as a bridge to the Republican right. Even though Kemp is widely criticized at the White House for showboating, he's likely to last out Bush's first term. But he almost surely won't be around for a second.