Obama's 'promise zones' versus Senator Paul's 'freedom zones'

Posted Jan 12, 2014 by Michael Krebs
President Obama's "promise zones" very much resemble Senator Rand Paul's ideas on "economic freedom zones" the Republican introduced in Detroit in December. Is imitation flattery, as Paul insists?
Inside of the Fisher Body 21 building in Detroit s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood
Inside of the Fisher Body 21 building in Detroit's Milwaukee Junction neighborhood
"They say the sincerest form of flattery is imitation," Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday.
The Libertarian-leaning senator was referring to President Obama's announcement on Thursday to institute the first five "promise zones," in an effort by the federal government to tackle rampant poverty in the wake of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.
The White House "promise zones" announcement comes more than a month after Senator Paul's public assertion, announced in Detroit in early December, that the most hard-hit regions in the nation should be designated as "economic freedom zones" and given federal backing, as Digital Journal reported.
Is President Obama's agenda a form of plagiarism or a form of flattery?
"In fact we're a little perplexed that his new promise zones don't apply to Detroit," Paul said in his Fox News interview. "So you've got a city in a depression with 18 percent unemployment and really a wasteland in some ways, and he's not going to apply his new alternative package for impoverished areas to Detroit?"
Income inequality is shaping up to be a political theme in the 2014 midterm elections, and both parties are staking their claims on the matter. The issue is one that carries a broad enough base and that could be tackled in a bipartisan manner - as the Paul and Obama agendas do not appear to differ that much.
However, as Forbes' Doug Schoen notes, President Obama's announcement could very well be a "charm offensive" meant to bolster Democratic sentiment in the 2014 midterm elections.