With bravado and big ideas, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday announced that he is running for the Republican candidacy in the upcoming 2016 presidential elections.
"I have a message, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We have come to take our country back," Paul declared before a crowd in a Louisville hotel ball room. "We have come to take our country back from the special interests that use Washington as their personal piggy bank, the special interests that are more concerned with their personal welfare than the general welfare."
In a speech that lambasted Washington bureaucracy, foreign intervention, government surveillance, radical Islam, corporate taxes, public education, liberals and conservatives alike, the Tea Party favorite announced his candidacy as a political outsider who has come to bring salvation to the United States, "with the help of liberty lovers everywhere."
During his speech on Tuesday, Paul channeled a more populist tone by touching upon themes such as economic inequality.
"Under the watch of both parties, the poor seem to get poorer and the rich get richer," he said. "Politically connected crones get taxpayer dollars by the hundreds of millions and poor families across America continue to suffer. I have a different vision, an ambitious vision, an ambitious vision, a vision that will offer opportunity to all Americans, especially those who have been left behind."
However, observers note that his policy proposals would only worsen the situation for America's poor.
As Matt Bruenig wrote for the Demos think tank Policy Shop blog, Paul supports a tax platform that effectively redistributes wealth from the poor to the rich. Further, Bruenig notes, the Kentucky Senator subscribes to a "college-student-inflected libertarianism where he thinks things like taxes and social insurance are the forceful aggression of the government."
Vox reporter Dylan Matthews outlines what exactly Paul would attempt to do as President of the United States, based on detailed, federal budgets put forth by the Senator annually. Proposals include eliminating or drastically cutting two of the biggest programs for the working poor, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, as well as eliminating Section 8 housing vouchers.
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Senator Paul's father, Rand Paul, former U.S. Representative for Texas, ran two presidential campaigns on a similar platform—though he has been widely dismissed as "bonkers" or "woman-hating crazy."
Paul now joins Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in the bid for Republican candidacy and will likely be joined in the months ahead by other hopefuls including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Florida Senator Marco Rubio is expected to launch his campaign next week.
A recent CNN poll has Paul placing third for the party nomination at 12%, behind Bush at 16% and Walker at 13%.
According to his campaign website, Paul will immediately hit the campaign trail with scheduled stops in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada.
Despite the obvious attempt to distance himself from the pack with a pledge to "defeat the Washington machine," critics say that according to the Senator's own record, he is no better than the rest.
As the Nation's John Nichol's wrote Tuesday, "Unfortunately, the supposedly 'different' Rand Paul talks a better line than he delivers." Nichols points to the recent example of Paul's thwarting of the District of Columbia Budget Autonomy Act, a power-to-the-people measure designed to give DC voters and their elected officials more authority over the spending of their tax dollars.
"When it counts, Paul reveals himself as an rather too predictable contemporary Republican," Nichols continued. "He is not interested in winning the battle of ideas. He is simply interested in winning—and if that means using the power of big government to thwart the legitimate and honorable democratic aspirations of citizens, so be it."