Paul on the poor: Slash taxes on impoverished areas, put more limits on food stamps

11/17/2013 09:58 PM

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said he “occasionally” gets grief from his colleagues in Washington for calling for cuts when Kentucky receives so much more federal resources than what Kentuckians send to D.C.

Some Kentucky communities are built on federal assistance. Owsley County receives the nation’s highest percentage of its income from federal benefits — more than 53 percent, according to a New York Times analysis from 2012. By comparison the national average for a county is 17.6 percent.

Paul said his suggestion is a bill he hopes to file in the next month to create what he calls “economic freedom zones” that would slash federal tax rates on corporations, individuals and workforce payrolls in counties that have 1.5 times the national average in hopes that it would leave more money in those communities that could lead to more jobs.

“What I want to do is reduce the taxes in Owsley County or Harlan County or Perry County,” he said (3:00). He said in some communities it could mean keeping $50 million over 10 years.

“That’s not a huge amount. But it’s enough — $50 million extra in Harlan over 10 years is not a bad thing. It would stimulate jobs,” he said. He explains his philosophy about how at 4:00 of the interview.

As for the food stamps, or SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — as it’s called now, Paul supports turning that into a block grant in which states would get a lump sum from Washington each year and have to stay within that amount. In the event of a recession in which more people would need it, Paul said states would have to decide to cut some people off the program.

“What would Kentucky do? They’d probably say able bodied people would be limited in how long they got it,” Paul said. “…That’s how you’d have enough money to give money for a lifetime to someone who is missing both legs and is on dialysis.”

“The income range has to be at a level where not everybody qualifies,” Paul said (at 6:15 of the interview) “…I don’t know the exact income level.”

In Kentucky, more than 860,000 people at one time use the program. Eligibility is tied to the federal poverty rate and the size of the household — with the additional stipulation that the family can’t have more than $2,000 in a bank account.

The segment begins with Paul responding to a question about the effect of the sequester cuts on the FBI, which in Kentucky has taken lead roles in drug investigations, public corruption, anti-terrorism operations and specific cases, such as the assassination of Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis.

FBI Director James Comey has been lobbying Congress to restore funding and most recently Ellen Glasser, president of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, warned in a column this month that the cuts could lead to “a disaster.”

“What I would do is keep the sequester because the sequester is working. It is slowing down the rate of growth but the sequester only affects one-third of the budget,” Paul said (2:00). He said he supports a 1 percent cut to the other two-thirds of government spending that covers Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.


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