Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pitched a libertarian vision for the nation in his rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“Government spending doesn’t work. It doesn’t create jobs. Only the democracy of the marketplace can find those capable of creating jobs,” he says.
And while he pledged to work with “the president, Democrats, independents and anyone who wants to get people back to work and alleviate poverty in our country,” he charged in the speech that Obama’s policies have exacerbated poverty.
In simple terms, Paul outlined the tenets of free-market libertarianism, quoting libertarian patriarch Milton Friedman at one point.
“It’s not that government’s inherently stupid — although it’s a debatable point,” he said with a pause and a cock of the head. “It’s that government doesn’t get the same signals. Milton Friedman recognized that when he wrote, ‘Nobody spends somebody else’s money as wisely as they spend their own.’ ”
Paul offered an "economic freedom zone" proposal, which aims to boost economically depressed regions of the country with targeted tax cuts instead of government stimulus programs.
And he warned against succumbing to “the politics of envy” by overtaxing business owners, which he said discourages job growth.
“Economic growth will come when we lower taxes for everyone, especially people who own businesses and create jobs. If we allow ourselves to succumb to the politics of envy, we miss the fact that money and jobs flow to where they are welcome,” said Paul.
Paul also pushed hard against welfare programs, echoing common Republican claims that they cause dependency and are easily abused.
“What is the virtue in making people feel hopeless, like they can't build a good life in America anymore?” he asked.
Paul is considered a likely presidential contender and has already begun to take up the mantle of the libertarian leader his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), once held. But he’s also worked, more than his father ever did, to straddle the line between the grassroots conservatives that helped elect him to Congress and the establishment GOP, with which his father typically butted heads.
The younger Paul has also been positioning himself as a leader in the party, offering policy proposals like his economic freedom zones, and on Tuesday night he previewed what might well become a presidential campaign pitch.
“Hard work and sweat invigorate the spirit and provide a solace no government program will ever achieve,” he said. “We must choose a new way, a way that empowers the individual through education and responsibility to earn a place alongside their fellow Americans in the most prosperous nation ever conceived.”