For some time now, Rand Paul has been pushing to create “economic freedom zones” in areas with unemployment rates that are one and half times the national average.
The legislation creates areas where personal and corporate income taxes would be lowered to 5 percent, payroll taxes would be cut by 2 percent, and numerous federal regulations would be waived. The bill would also create a school choice program and ease restrictions on highly skilled immigrants who want to move to these zones.
Paul was able to attach his legislation to H.R. 2028, which deals with the budgets for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Energy Department, and other related agencies. The legislation is set to receive a vote in the Senate this week.
Paul’s bill is designed to show that free markets and less government can jumpstart economic growth. He calls his bill the “largest anti-poverty initiative since the War on Poverty,” which was launched in the 1960s by President Lyndon Johnson. The Kentucky senator also made the idea a part of his failed presidential campaign last year.
Paul’s “economic freedom zones” are not without their critics on both the left and the right. Matthew Pulver attacked them as part of the “neoliberal experiment in hyper-capitalism and the erosion of the state” in an op-ed for Salon. On the other side, the Club for Growth criticized the concept, saying it would reward irresponsible and bad local governance, and put responsible communities at a disadvantage.
Does Paul’s legislation have a shot at passage? Probably not. But it will certainly stimulate a discussion on what can be done to fight poverty and get the economy moving again.
This article originally appeared on Rare.