Trying to put some distance between himself and his most recent plagiarism scandal, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who has aspirations of running for President in 2016, made his way to Michigan yesterday, promising to unveil a plan that would help turn around not only Detroit, but every struggling community across the United States. According to Paul, he’ll be introducing the bill, which he calls the Economic Freedom Zones plan, in the Senate on Monday.
[Speaking of plagiarism… Much of Paul’s new plan seems to have been lifted from Jack Kemp’s unsuccessful Enterprise Zone bill back in the early 1980s.]
Not surprisingly for a man named after Ayn Rand, Paul’s plan has free-marketers creaming their Chinese-made jeans. Among other things, the plan, if voted into law, would reduce federal income taxes in these “Economic Freedom Zones” to just 5-percent, eliminate capital gains taxes altogether, roll back environmental regulation significantly, implement wide-ranging school voucher programs, and relax federal wage requirements on public projects. And this program wouldn’t just roll out in Detroit and a few other failing cities, according to Paul. It would be implemented in any zip code where there’s an unemployment rate over 1.5 times the national average. In Kentucky alone, Paul tells us, that would 25 counties.
So, if enacted, legislation would eliminate the EPA across a significant portion of our country, make school vouchers the norm, and, perhaps most importantly, significantly cut down on the amount of money going to the federal government, effectively “starving the beast.”
“These Economic Freedom Zones,” says Paul, “allow blighted and bankrupt areas to remove the shackles of big government by reducing taxes, regulations, and burdensome union work requirements. These zones give parents and students the flexibility to find better schools, allow talented immigrants to pursue entrepreneurial and job-creating endeavors, and will provide additional incentives for philanthropy to help those in need.”
I particularly like the “incentives for philanthropy” part, as it implies that federal government will no longer be in the business of feeding and sheltering the poor. Paul, like many in his party, wants to take us back to the time of robber barons, where the rich could do what they wanted, without fear of reprisal, in exchange for the promise that they might, at some point, step in clean up their messes… Thankfully, some are seeing through it. Michigan Democratic Party spokesman Josh Pugh had the following to say in response to Paul’s speech at the Detroit Economic Club yesterday. “Senator Paul was a vocal opponent of the auto rescue, which saved over a million jobs,” he said, “and led the Republican effort to shut down the government, costing Michigan’s economy hundreds of millions… It’s time for our elected leaders to stop the tax giveaways, invest in communities and improve education.” I couldn’t agree more. This is a time for increased government investment in education and infrastructure, not the wholesale abandonment of the system that brought us out of the Great Depression, delivering nearly a century of prosperity, and putting Americans on the moon.