U.S. Senator Rand Paul made Corbin one of his first stops in a series of town hall style meetings in eastern Kentucky Wednesday, and he used the setting to discuss what he sees as the two biggest problems facing the nation — debt and the rising power of the presidency.
Paul spoke to a breakfast crowd of about 80 people at The Dixie Café in downtown Corbin. The event was sponsored by the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
As he’s done in previous similar forums, Paul sounded a stark warning again that the U.S. government is doing too much deficit spending and, in turn, piling up too much debt. He said to keep up, more money is simply being printed, a move he derided as unfair to small communities and devastating the value of the nation’s currency.
“As we print it up, you lose your purchasing power,” Paul said. “The dollar has lost 96 percent of its purchasing power over the last 100 years.”
He dovetailed the concern about debt into an idea he’s brought up before — “economic freedom zones.”
Instead of a top-down approach, where government taxes more and redistributes the money to communities that need it, Paul favors offering targeted tax breaks to areas around the country that have high unemployment or endemic poverty.
“It would leave over a billion dollars in eastern Kentucky,” Paul said.
He added that “the government is notoriously bad about choosing who will be good in business,” and said that with “economic freedom zones” more money would stay in impoverished communities so that employers could create more jobs.
Paul also expressed concern that the balance of power in the government has tipped too heavily toward the U.S. Presidency.
“If I had to estimate right now how large the presidency is compared to Congress, I’d say it is 1,000 fold more powerful than Congress,” Paul said.
He laid some of the blame squarely at the feet of the U.S. Senate and House, saying Congress has not done enough to fight what he considers a long-standing presidential power grab that goes back 100 years or more.
Paul said U.S. President Barack Obama has been notorious for “creating” laws through executive orders and promulgation of administrative regulations that have weakened the natural role of the legislative branch.
Fighting those orders and regulations is vitally important, and he said the nominating process to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died this week, is crucial and will not be undertaken lightly.
He said Obama has a “conflict of interest” in appointing a replacement.
“He’s going to get to appoint the judge that will decide if he gets to do all the things he’s doing that are illegal.”
Paul pointed to regulations being implemented through the Environmental Protection Agency as an example. The high court has issued a stay on the “clean power” plan until a lawsuit against its implementation could be heard. He said EPA regulations have devastated the coal industry in Kentucky.
“We’ve lost 10,000 jobs in Kentucky from the War on Coal,” Paul said.
“There has never been a president more against one state ever in our history,” he added. “[The nomination of a Supreme Court Justice] is going to be a big fight. This is a big deal.”
Paul took numerous questions from the audience on topics like illegal immigration, the state of the coal industry and Donald Trump’s unusual candidacy and impact on the Republican Presidential nominating process.
Paul gave detailed answers to all questions, but declined to weigh in on Trump’s impact on Republican politics, or the election as a whole, saying he did not want to unduly influence the presidential nominating process.
Paul was scheduled to make 20 stops during the series of meetings over a period of several days.