Income inequality, anti-poverty programs, these are the buzzwords starting 2014. Now Obama has just announced Economic Freedom—, wait, Promise Zones and he’s reaching out to Republicans like our Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell. There’s some familiar ideas being proposed but Paul feels more could be done.
So what is a ‘Promise Zone’?
According to the Wall Street Journal, “[it’s] an effort that will lend federal support [i.e. federal grants and tax incentives] to areas with high poverty rates to increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing, improve public safety and create jobs.”
It’s an initiative that’s taken a year to form, according to The Washington Times. Five of eventually 20 “promise zones” have already been selected: San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Paul’s own southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
What perplexes Paul the most about this selection is….where’s Detroit? At least his Economic Freedom Zones addressed Detroit right away. Although there is 15 “promise zones” left, it would be questionable if it wasn’t included later.
Meanwhile, a section of Kentucky has been selected, but Paul feels that it won’t be received without criticism. Most Kentuckians feel that Obama’s “War on Coal” is what created their economic plight to begin with.
So how are these ‘Promise Zones’ getting funded?
No figures have been officially thrown out but:
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the proposal is aimed at speeding grants that are already available, rather than coming up with new federal money. The administration also envisions creating partnerships with private enterprise to encourage investment in the zones. (Washington Times)
Essentially, when these zones apply for federal grants and loans, they’ll be given “a competitive advantage.” But it’s kind of a ploy. Obama is trying to appease Republicans ahead of time by saying that ‘we’re not really going to ask for more money because we’re offering what already exists.’ Right. We’ll see how this works out.
By the way, the “Promise Zone” designation will last for a length of 10 years according to Dave Boyer of the Washington Times.
The president also has called on Congress to offer tax credits in these communities to attract businesses and create jobs, but no action has been taken yet. (WSJ)
What’s Paul’s take on “Promise Zones”?
“I think the good news is the sentiment, and I think his motives are in the right place,” Paul said. “The only concern I have is that some of the thoughts as far as government grants aren’t new ideas. I’m not saying I’m opposed to what he’s doing. I’m just concerned that it’s not enough, and that it isn’t different from what we’re doing…to have the effect that we all want.” (ABC News)
Paul feels that tax cuts, not grants, would be more effective.
“Government grants largely haven’t worked,” Mr. Paul said. “I’m not asking Houston to bail out Appalachia, I’m asking Appalachia to bail themselves out. What we’ve done in the past hasn’t really worked.”
Boyer of the Washington Times backs Paul’s claiming by saying that while “similar programs to revitalize ailing communities have been tried by presidents ranging from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton…Overall, government has spent more than $20 trillion on anti-poverty programs…[and] the poverty rate in America has declined only from about 17 percent in 1965 to 15 percent today.”
WATCH: Rand Paul Discuss Promise Zones Before The Announcement
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