Dr. Paul’s Economic Rx For Freedom
DETROIT, MI – Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club yesterday, Kentucky senator and speculative 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul unveiled his plan for “economic freedom zones” in US cities across America. Paul recalled former Republican congressman and vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp’s Conservative War on Poverty.
These freedom zones, where federal taxes on personal and corporate income as well as payroll taxes would be greatly reduced, would be like Kemp’s “enterprise zones on steroids,” Paul told the audience. He promised his bill, which will be introduced sometime next week, will also slash red tape which prevents new business from starting.
Paul projected that over the next ten years economic freedom zones in Detroit would leave over $1.3 billion in that city. It is the kind of stimulus conservatives and libertarians can get behind; one which leaves money in the hands of the people instead of injecting tax payer money into the city. Under the bill, any US city with unemployment greater than 1.5x the national average would be eligible for economic freedom zones. It is easy to understand why Paul decided to launch the effort in Detroit, which recently became the first major US city to declare bankruptcy.
Video: Rand Paul Addresses Detroit Economic Club
The move comes as a part of a wider initiative on Paul’s part to reach out to minority voters and inner city populations. He has taken the message of personal liberty and economic freedom to demographics traditionally considered loyal to the Democrats. Paul has been vocal about the GOP’s need to embrace more libertarian principles in order to grow their base by attracting youths and minorities. He has spoken at black colleges such as Howard University, and has even opened an office in Detroit for the purpose of outreach–territories seen as unfriendly to Republicans. At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference he pronounced that the “GOP of old has become stale and moss-covered.” It’s a message many are happy to hear.
Paul is changing the game. Not only is he pushing for necessary changes in the GOP’s approach and tactics, he is developing plans which truly have the ability to jump-start failing urban communities. Economic Freedom Zones would allow cities to begin to lift themselves up, establishing a more effective way to combat poverty than taking money from people who need it. If it were to become law, Paul’s plan could demonstrate how harmful government regulation and taxation can be.
A War on Poverty aimed at reducing taxation and federal regulation could jump-start our economy and establish a model that could be expanded to include entire cities, or even states. When inner city populations see firsthand the benefits and long-term growth that would be possible under this model, the support for welfare state policies would decline. More minorities and traditional supporters of government economic intervention would come to support free market solutions to poverty. Could a party that carries such a message compete in Democratic strongholds like Detroit, or blue states like California? Senator Paul believes the GOP could and must if it wishes to ever become the majority party of the country.
Paul and his libertarian-Republican cohorts such as Senator Mike Lee and Congressman Justin Amash are reshaping the GOP. As they attempt to center the party more on issues of civil liberties and economic freedom. Opposing policies such as domestic drone usage, NSA surveillance, and indefinite detention is a stark contrast to the neoconservative controlled GOP of the Bush-era. Paul hopes these types of changes will make the GOP more appealing to people who may have once written off the party. A War on Poverty centered on Paul’s Economic Freedom Zones, could play a large role in that.
Paul’s willingness to address the war on drugs and how it unfairly and disproportionately affects black Americans (an issue President Obama has been silent on) could be another factor. “Something has to change,” Paul said during the opening of his Detroit office. “The war on drugs has gone awry.” Astutely tying the unfair enforcement of the war on drugs to Detroit’s economic hardships, Paul asked “How are you supposed to make child support payments if you’ve been in prison, and the best job you can get is $9 an hour?”
If the GOP embraces Paul’s lead and truly becomes the party that stands for keeping nonviolent Americans out of prison and keeping more money in the hands of the people who earn it, it could potentially reshape America’s electoral map. Perhaps we could see a GOP that competes on the West Coast and in the Northeast, as Paul has said. The prospect is certainly something Democrats would fear.
Keith Farrell is a frequent contributor to The Libertarian Republic and the founder and president of Spirits of ’76 nonprofit organization. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BA in American Studies, with concentration in political science, and Urban and Community Studies. Follow him on Facebook.