By Leeann Akers - Editor
Oct. 30, 2013 — Although U. S. Sen. Rand Paul is “still considering” a run for the White House in 2016, last week's visit in Grayson certainly sounded like a campaign stop.
U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie accompanied Paul and warmed up the crowd.
“I hate getting calls to let me know my cattle are in Hal Rogers district,” the Lewis County native told the mostly conservative crowd at Estep's Family Restaurant Thursday morning. “I would personally like to see him (Paul) to move to another house.”
“I have good news and bad news, your government is open, and your government is open,” Paul said to a receptive crowd.
Paul went on to quantify the national debt issue, calling it “unsustainable and completely insane.”
He touched on the difficulties with the government’s healthcare website, which he claimed are present because the government can't operate with a profit model.
He quickly returned to fiscal issues, discussing his plans for economic stimulus.
Paul said he intends to propose a bill when he returns to DC to introduce “Economic Freedom Zone,” a plan he said would help communities that are considered distressed. A community qualifies as “distressed” if its unemployment rate exceeds 12 percent.
With the plan, all communities deemed distressed would receive a cut in federal taxes. Personal income tax and corporate tax would both be reduced to five percent for everyone in the area and payroll taxes would be reduced to two percent, he said.
The stimulus would last over a 10-year period. The lowered rates would stay the same over the first five years and tax rates would gradually go back to normal over the last five years.
Paul said Economic Freedom Zones are not like a traditional government stimulus. “You get back some of your money that you earned,” he said. “You just don’t have to send as much to Washington.”
The senator said there are more than 20 counties in East Kentucky with unemployment at or above 12 percent.
“In one of your counties just to the south of here, that will mean $25 million over five years of your money that stays in the area,” Paul said.
Although the room seemed interested in the idea, it would not affect Carter County, which has a 10.5 percent unemployment rate.
Paul said that the focus of politics needs to change in order to avoid more government shutdowns and impasses with bills in the House and Senate.
“The grand bargain is never coming because we disagree on too many things,” Paul said. “I disagree with most of what the President says, but I think we can agree on about 10 percent. We need to try to emphasize what we do agree on and pass those bills.”
Massie said Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, allowed the shutdown to occur by refusing to negotiate on individual bills.
“Harry Reid refused to do anything in the Senate for 15 days,” Massie said. “He and the President refused to negotiate and promised to default this entire country because they want to keep kicking the can down the road. I think we need to fix the long term problem. We have to balance the budget.”
Paul and Massie took a few questions from the crowd before heading to Ashland, but kept the focus on the national debt.
“I think the course we are on is unsustainable,” Paul said. If we don't do something about it I think it will slip away from us, maybe in a slow bankruptcy of the country or perhaps in a panic like happened in 2008. A lot of people can get wiped out in a panic.”
When asked specifically if he intended to run for the White House in 2016, Paul laughed and said, “Let me ask my wife.”
He went on to say it would be another year before he makes a decision.
Leeann Akers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 474-5101.