Rand Paul pushes tax cuts for Detroit

Greg Nash

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday proposed boosting economically depressed regions of the country such as Detroit with targeted tax cuts.

The tax cuts would go to areas with an unemployment rate 50 percent greater than the national average, as well as cities like Detroit that have filed for bankruptcy or are at risk of doing so. The regions would be known as "Economic Freedom Zones."

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Paul, who is seen as a possible presidential contender in 2016, touted the plan as a conservative alternative to government stimulus for parts of the country that are struggling economically.

"Where we truly think this is different than government stimulus is that a government stimulus takes money from one area of the country, brings it to Washington, then somebody — a central planner — has to decide who to give it to,” Paul said on a conference call with reporters.

"In ours, basically the money will go back to people who the customers have already voted for, businesses that are making a profit, a welding business in Detroit that has 10 employees. They're the one that's going to get the taxes back.”

The senator said the proposal would help both urban and rural areas facing economic difficulties.

Those areas would enjoy reduced income tax, corporate tax, payroll tax and capital gains tax rates. The plan would also make it easier for immigrants to start businesses, he said.

"What we hope to do is create taxes so low that you essentially are able to bail yourselves out, by having more money accumulate in the area over time," Paul said.

Paul said he'll introduce the idea in legislation next week following a speech on Friday to the Detroit Economic Club.

The trip to Detroit gives Paul an opportunity to meet local business leaders in a critical swing state. He'll also be on hand to open a Michigan Republican Party minority outreach office, a continuation of his focus on expanding the reach of the GOP.

Paul is considered a rising star in the GOP, and has sought to make a name for himself in the party by promoting libertarian views on a range of issues, most prominently national security.

His expanded focus on economic policy comes as President Obama is promising to tackle income inequality during the rest of his time in office.

— This story was updated at 12:20 p.m.