How Rand Paul thinks he can save Detroit

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is traveling to Detroit this week armed with an ambitious plan to save the bankrupt city.

In an interview with The Daily Caller on Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican senator previewed his trip to Michigan, where he will present his ideas for an “economic freedom zone” to the Detroit Economic Club on Friday.

Paul acknowledged his idea is similar to those of former Rep. Jack Kemp’s “enterprise zones,” which similarly used incentives to encourage private sector investment in urban areas.

“What we’ve done is taken enterprise zones and really given them enterprise zones on steroids,” Paul told TheDC.

The plan includes taking a “dramatic approach to the personal income tax and the corporate tax” by lowering both to 5 percent in select areas in Detroit.

Paul said the plan includes inviting immigrants who have $50,000 to live in the zones. “We invite them to come in and make it very easy for them to apply for residence in these areas,” he said.

He said the plan also includes eliminating the capital gains tax and cutting “government red tape.”

“That is a policy that promotes growth in the city and does it without having to ask Houston to bail out Detroit,” he said. (RELATED: Rand Paul: Obama will bail out Detroit ‘over my dead body’)

Asked why he cares about Detroit, Paul — a possible 2016 presidential candidate — said: “Well you know, some of the same problems that affect Detroit are affecting Kentucky. And I think my job is to care about everything that happens in the whole country.”

While in Detroit on Friday, Paul will also attend the official opening of the Michigan GOP office in the city. “It’s for us to learn about what are the problems facing people who live in big cities, and what are some of the solutions,” he said.

He said Republicans should use this opportunity to speak about the issues an urban community cares about, like the criminal justice system which “still seems to be treating people unfairly,” school choice and mandatory minimum sentences for drug users.

“For example, the war on drugs, I think three out of four people in prison are black or Latino, and that really when you look at surveys of drug use, is disproportionately putting some people in prison,” he said. “I think these are some things that will resonate in cities.”

He also admitted that the efforts are meant to expose Republican ideas to many voter blocs that haven’t always supported the GOP.

“I think it’s because we’re not showing up and then some of it’s policy,” Paul said of Republicans winning votes of minorities.“I think if we start showing up, and if we talk about policy and actively find out what’s going on in the community, I think we have a better chance. So I think going in, not right before elections, but going in years in advance and having a permanent presence in communities. I think has nothing but upside potential.”

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