Exclusive - Rand Paul: 'Economic Freedom Zones' for Detroit, Other Cities

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is heading to Detroit, Michigan, on Friday to open up a new Republican National Committee (RNC) office aimed at conducting GOP outreach in the inner city there, he told Breitbart News in an exclusive phone interview.

“Around the country, we’re going to be opening offices in all the major cities in the United States,” Paul said. “And when you look at the red-blue map of party divisions around the country, the Republican Party tends to win the countryside and the rural cities and small towns but we’re not doing so well in the big cities. So I think we need to spend more time in the big cities. And I think spending time will help to introduce our message to those people in those cities.”

During his trip to Detroit, Paul will also give a speech to the Detroit Economic Club, where he will unveil a new economic empowerment policy called “Economic Freedom Zones.”

“I think also we need to think about what policies will attract new voters and what are the problems of a city,” Paul said. “We’ve been thinking a lot about what’s going on with Detroit and Detroit’s bankruptcy and we’ve come up with a plan we’ll introduce at the Detroit Economic Club about what we call ‘Economic Freedom Zones.’ Some of the idea we took from Jack Kemp who had something called ‘Enterprise Zones.’ But we’ve gone a little bit farther because we think in some ways the ‘Enterprise Zones’ never quite lived up to their potential because they weren’t dramatic enough. 

"What we’ve done is devised dramatic reductions in taxes for any community that has unemployment one and a half times the national average," Paul continued. "That’ll apply to Detroit, and it’ll also apply to several counties in Kentucky, also Louisville, as well as several other cities around the country. We’d reduce taxes so significantly that Detroit would have enough of her own money left in Detroit and not sent to Washington that we think it’d provide a stimulus and help her get out of the hole.”

According to details Paul’s office provided to Breitbart News, these zones would include the following policies: a reduction in individual and corporate income tax to a single, flat rate of 5 percent, a reduction in the payroll tax, the providing of child education tax credits to parents, a suspension of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) non-attainment designations, and a suspension of the Davis-Bacon wage requirements.

Paul said this kind of a plan would be able to save Detroit without a federal government bailout — something that he had previously told Breitbart News would never happen on his watch. 

“And the thing that makes this better than a government bailout or a government stimulus is that if we take let’s say a billion dollars from Houston and we send it to Detroit by way of Washington, some of it gets squandered and lost in the bureaucracy of Washington,” Paul said. “Somewhere in Washington, some central planner needs to figure out who to send the money to in Detroit. He sends the money to his friends. They aren’t necessarily the best people in business; they just happen to be friends of the president. So that’s what happened when the president sent out a trillion dollar stimulus a couple years ago. It turned out each job cost about $400,000 and it didn’t significantly improve unemployment.

"The difference is with this is if you leave your money in the hands of successful businesses, you’re not deciding who the winners and losers are; the customer is," Paul said. "So those who are better succeeding, those who are gaining the votes of customers, they’re the ones who get more of the tax rebate. It’s a much easier, quicker and more efficient way of creating jobs than actually trying to start de novo and saying ‘hey John Smith, we can get him making solar panels and making money.’ Instead, what we say is Smith has a welding shop and employs 10 people there. Maybe he’ll hire two more if we don’t force him to send so much money to Washington.”

Paul views this as a way to kill two birds with one stone: Prevent federal government bailouts of major cities like Detroit, while serving as a form of conservative minority outreach for the GOP by showing conservative policies in action. In addition to economic empowerment policies for failing inner city communities, Paul plans to increase his focus on criminal justice reform and on school choice issues.

“I don’t think Democrats have served people well in the big cities,” Paul said. “School systems are in the pits. We’re going to talk about school choice. The criminal justice system is unfair; you have many blacks and latinos who are rotting away in prison often for nonviolent crimes. So we have to talk about criminal justice, school choice, economic empowerment. This is a message that we’ve not done a very good job at trying to reform. But if we come in with a reform message and set up a presence in Detroit, I think the upside potential is unlimited for us.”

Overall, Paul thinks the GOP should not pander to the Democrats when doing minority outreach—something he believes is a priority for the Party moving forward. Instead of pushing policies that are just a little bit less liberal than the Democrats’ ideas, Paul thinks the Republicans should flip these issues on their heads; all while getting results with true conservatives economic policies in the inner city.

“There’s a big debate going on in the Republican Party right now about how we should dilute our message and become the Democrat-lite party, that that’s how we’ll get new people in the party,” Paul said. “Or, it’s whether or not you believe like I do, that we should just be more passionate about our message and find parts of our message that we really haven’t presented well enough. That’s why I think the youth vote is open to us if we passionately defend the right to privacy. I think that much of the urban city vote and sort of metro vote is open to us if we can come up with solutions that are plaguing our cities: problems in education, economic empowerment. I don’t think we have to be that the Democrats are for a trillion dollar government stimulus and we’re for a half a trillion. It shouldn’t be being for half of what of the Democrats are for, it should be being for the stimulus that comes from the private sector and for action that may have a chance of actually working and stimulating the economy. I think that our possibilities really are great and people can sense when you are really sincere about a policy as opposed to just pandering. So I believe with all of my heart in all of our message and the message is the message of capitalism, the message of free enterprise. If talked about and brought to people of any walk of life, I think it can and will be received.”

Paul said he thinks Republicans need to go out into these communities and actually talk to people, like he has done. “I think one of the best examples of that is Jack Kemp,” Paul said. “When you talk to people who worked for Jack Kemp and you talk to people who knew him, whenever he went to a city anywhere around the country, he always tried to go meet people where they lived, where the problems were. He didn’t just go give a message on the rich side of town. He tried to go into the impoverished neighborhoods, visit soup kitchens, visit the community centers and find where there is a place where you connect with people.”

Paul said, if Republicans follow this strategy, they can begin chipping away at the Democratics' urban strongholds. “States like Ohio and Illinois become Republican states if we can attract 20 percent of the African American vote to the Republican Party,” Paul said. “I think that’s doable. There was a time in the United States where the black vote was over 90 percent Republican—until about 1928, and then it slowly slipped away. Actually, quite a bit slipped away as FDR changed people’s allegiances. But for a long time, really, the party of civil rights, the party of abolition, the party against Jim Crow, was always the Republican Party. In fact, in my state of Kentucky, if you look back at all of the terrible discriminatory laws that were passed, they were all done by Democrats. They were all done by majority Democrat state legislatures.”


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