Sen. Rand Paul is taking full advantage of Congress’s recess with a tour of speaking engagements in Real America. But more importantly, he used the time away from Washington to cultivate a decidedly different image: not the libertarian spark plug most people think of when they think of Rand Paul, but an old-fashioned, issues-oriented compassionate conservative.
Speaking at Josephinum Academy, a Catholic girls’ high school in Chicago, Paul talked to parents and students about public-school alternatives and supported the right for religious schools like Josephinum to receive federal money. School vouchers and charter schools have long been conservatives’ workaround to push against the public education system without seeming like they were pricing out low-income students.
He said schools should reward exceptional teachers the same way we reward professional athletes — with salary hikes tied to their performance. “In Washington, no one knows if you’re a good teacher or a bad teacher,” Paul said. “I’d make teachers like professional athletes. They would get more and more money.”
He also worked to make clear that he wants to empower public educators, rather than disenfranchising them. “This isn’t ideologues versus the public school teachers’ unions,” Paul told the assembled students, parents, and teachers. “It’s choice versus coercion.”
At the event, school-choice advocates emphasized the need to take an “all-of-the-above” approach to education that includes public, private, charter, and online schools. Charter schools are publicly funded but operate independently, and they don’t have to meet the same education requirements that traditional public schools do.
Schools like Josephinum are seen as ideal examples for the school-choice movement. Michael Dougherty, Josephinum’s president, touted the school’s 100 percent college acceptance rate. And its students come from all over the Chicago area. Last year, the Chicago Tribune profiled Jailyn Baker, a Josephinum student whose commute to school every day takes one and a half hours, each way.
Since starting his first term in the Senate, Paul has made a point to travel around the country speaking to urban communities struggling with poverty — not exactly a friendly setting for Republican politicians.
Some have said that promoting school choice and urban revitalization is part of Paul’s grand plan to welcome minority voters into the GOP’s fold. As Bloomberg notes, Black and Hispanic voters are the fastest-growing segment of the electorate, and as such are a valuable demographic for Republicans to pursue.
Paul has proposed policies that would specifically affect urban, minority communities. Along with charter schools, he’s proposed creating “economic freedom zones” — areas within a city where taxes are radically lowered to encourage business growth. Back in December, Paul traveled to Detroit to open Michigan’s GOP office there and to promote the idea of “freedom zones” in struggling cities.
Rep. Jack Kemp — the original compassionate conservative — first proposed such zones as a way to lift city dwellers out of poverty. Since then, President Obama has proposed a similar plan, rebranded as Promise Zones. Unfortunately, even Kemp’s former economist has said enterprise zones don’t work in practice, and other economists have challenged the idea that radically lowering taxes will spur economic activity and help the well-being of residents in that area.
But there’s a reason Kemp is not as well known for his effect on social policies as much as, say, Rep. John Lewis.
A 1993 New York Times Magazine story titled “How Jack Kemp Lost the War on Poverty” chronicled how Kemp and his cohort’s compassionate-conservative philosophy only took them so far. When pressed on their social policy agenda, they would stick to their narrow platform — enterprise zones, tax credits, and school vouchers. Sound familiar?
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."