Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a possible contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said Sunday that his plan to spur job creation in high unemployment areas is the only politically viable plan to help depressed cities, with Detroit as the prime example.
“My economic stimulus plan for Detroit would leave over a billion dollars in Detroit's economy and would stimulate Detroit,” he said. “There is no other plan on the table and there's not going to be some grand bailout that's going to go through Congress, other than my plan, if my plan would pass. I think it's the only one that politically could pass.”
Paul unveiled his program in a speech at the Detroit Economic Club on Friday. His plan would set ultra-low tax rates and lift some government regulations in any Zip code in which the unemployment rate is more than one-and-a-half times the national average. The national average is now 7 percent.
Paul argued on Fox News Sunday that the approach of massive federal spending to create jobs has not worked.
“The president poured a trillion dollars into the nation's economy and when you divided it out it was about $400,000 per job,” he said. And the 2009 stimulus favored some firms over others, he said. By contrast, the Kentucky Republican said, his approach, which he called “a free-market stimulus,” would leave “the money in the hands of those who earned it, and so the customers have actually picked out the successful people, the ones they choose to buy products from.”
Paul also told Fox News’s Chris Wallace that while he supported the normal 26 weeks of unemployment compensation for jobless Americans, he does not support an extension of the emergency unemployment compensation program that Congress enacted back in 2008 and that is set to expire on Dec. 28.
“I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they're paid for,” Paul said. “If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers. There was a study that came out a few months ago, and it said, if you have a worker that's been unemployed for four weeks and on unemployment insurance and one that's on 99 weeks, which would you hire? Every employer -- nearly 100 percent --said they will always hire the person who's been out of work four weeks. When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you're causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy.”
Paul also said “black unemployment in America is double white unemployment, and it hasn't budged under this president. I think a lot of African-Americans voted for him, but I don't think it's worked. I don't think his policies are working.”
Paul was also asked about alternatives to the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, which provides services such as cancer screenings and mammograms to certain people without charge. “What is your plan that would allow these folks, the 105 million Americans, to keep those benefits?” Wallace asked Paul.
“First of all, there is nothing for free. You're going to pay for it, and we're paying for it through higher premiums,” Paul said. “We're also going to find out in January that more people will lose their insurance under Obamacare, I think, than will actually gain it. The Republican plan is freedom of choice -- more choices, not less. ‘Obamacare’ narrows your choices. We're for competition. We're for selling insurance across state lines. And above all, we’re for driving premiums down.”