Senator Mitch McConnell – Introduction of Economic Freedom Zones
...Unlike the Democrats' outdated ideas from the 60s, Republicans are thinking about ways to update our nation's approach with fresh proposals that speak to the situation Americans actually find themselves in today.
The Republican approach is to learn from past mistakes.
It's about turning the Left's good intentions into policies that can actually get the job done.
And it's about moving beyond the treatment of symptoms, and getting at underlying problems.
That's the thinking behind the Economic Freedom Zones Act, which Senator Paul and I recently introduced. It aims to shine a light into some of the most impoverished corners of our country ... to raise up cities and families who've been left behind, and sometimes crushed, by outdated ideas from the 60s. And to do it in a way that lasts.
With this legislation, some of the most disadvantaged areas of our country would acquire the ability to apply for an Economic Freedom Zone status that would help lift the burden on some of the poorest families in the country. Small business owners would see fewer government regulations, enabling them to create jobs and drive prosperity. Entrepreneurs would see punitive tax barriers peeled back, allowing them to lead a recovery with new ideas and energy. Failed education systems would see reforms that lift up disadvantaged children, giving new hope to a younger generation. Cities and regions that now face a dark future could transform themselves, if they chose, almost instantly into magnets for new ideas. And hope.
So if our Democrat colleagues are serious about their focus on economic distress - if it's more than just some poll-tested Obamacare distraction - then I invite them to work with us on innovative new approaches like this. They could allow the Senate, for instance, to consider our proposal as an amendment to the UI legislation currently on the floor.
Because this is a discussion that needs to be about really helping people.
And these Economic Freedom Zones are similar in some ways to the Promise Zone initiative recently developed by the Obama Administration. I was pleased to hear that eight counties in Eastern Kentucky will soon receive Promise Zone designation. That's why I wrote in support of granting this designation last year, because there's no doubt that Eastern Kentucky is a region that has suffered enormous hardship in recent years - much of it, unfortunately, related to the very same Administration's 'war' on coal families. But the Promise Zone designation is a step in the right direction nonetheless. Senator Paul and I will be heading to the White House later today for a Promise Zone event, because we're encouraged that the President is finally focused on a concrete approach to jobs that members of both parties can support - proving that we can accomplish things when we focus on real efforts rather than political show votes designed to fail.
And Promise Zones are something we could build on with far more comprehensive approaches, like Economic Freedom Zones that would reach even more communities in need of revitalization.
Because let's remember this: government programs can sometimes help, but they can't do everything. And the 1960s mindset about how to fight poverty - it needs to change to fit the realities of the 21st Century.
I want to share a sentiment I read just yesterday from Thomas Vinson, an unemployed coal worker from the very Kentucky county where LBJ launched his big-government blitz 50 years ago. This was his take on the so-called 'War on Poverty': What good are all these government programs if they don't get you a job? It's a feeling, the article noted, that's widespread among his neighbors in Martin County.
This is why Republicans say it's time for modernization and new approaches. It's time to give folks like Thomas real hope. It's time to give them more than good intentions.
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