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Paul sets up platform at Rotary luncheon

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But sidesteps question on running for president

By Lisa King

About 100 showed up for Tuesday’s Shelbyville Rotary club meeting to hear U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Bowling Green) speak about several topics, including immigration reform, criminal justice, minimized government influence in the private sector and his ideas on how to bring more money into the U.S. economy.

“For the last three months or so, I’ve been working with [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and it’s over something that a lot of people agree on whether you’re Republican or Democrat. We need to have enough money to build our infracture,” he said. “Roads, bridges, etc. It’s something that has been part of what the government has been doing for quite a while now, but like everything else in government, it’s broken. We spend about forty billion on roads and we bring in about thirty billion. So I have a great idea, it’s to lower what we call the repatriation tax.

“If an American company makes money oversees, like in Ireland, they pay taxes there, but then to bring it home, we tell them they have to pay thirty-five percent on top of the taxes they paid in Ireland. As a consequence, companies aren’t bringing it home; Apple has $180 billion overseas, Caterpillar has $55 million.”

Reid, a Democrat, also had commended Paul publically in June for introducing legislation that would restore voting rights to nonviolent felons in federal elections, a cause that he himself has championed in the past.

“As a Christian, I believe in redemption; I believe in a second chance,” Paul told the crowd.

While he said he doesn’t approve of recreational drug use, not even marijuana, he doesn’t believe it should earn a lifetime mistake.

“However, an eighteen or twenty-year-old kid who does make a mistake ought to get his right to vote back, ought to not go to jail for ten or fifteen years. Let’s lock up the murderers, the rapists, the thieves and the really bad people,” he said. “Let’s not lock up people who could make a productive living again.”

Paul said that he applauds bipartisan efforts to try to address issues such as repatriation and criminal justice reform.

In light of Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, ruling that employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage, Paul said the case presented a fundamental issue on religious freedom.

“The Hobby Lobby lawyer put it this way; he said you shouldn’t have to give up your faith to remain in business and you shouldn’t be asked to give up your business to stay true to your faith,” he said. “It’s not about having birth control, either. Hobby Lobby offers forty kinds of birth control; they didn’t want to offer six. So now, they’re being forced by the government to offer six that they find morally objectionable. The real question is, is it the government’s business to tell any private business what they have to offer in their insurance? It’s your business and you earned the money, and you employ the people. Should you be told that? So what is this whole thing about? It’s about freedom versus coercion.”

Paul, who also took questions from the crowd, touched on topics of the value of good-old fashioned hard work and building the self-esteem that comes with it, adding that nobody wants to work hard anymore.

“Everybody should work, and it shouldn’t be a punishment,” he said. “I tell my kids, it’s Monday morning, I get to go to work, you get to go to school – it’s great,” he said, as the crowd laughed.

That line of discussion lead into the pros and cons of immigration and how farmers really need migrant farm workers because American workers will not do that kind of labor anymore.

“To have immigration reform, you have to secure your borders first,” he said, in answer to a question from the audience about his views on that topic.

“So we do need these workers,” he said. “The key is you have to have border security first, to have any forgiveness. The eleven million that are already here, if they want to work, I want them to have work visas. I’m not for shipping everybody home. That’s kind of a moderate position, but make them work, make them taxpayers, have them working, give them official papers. It doesn’t have to be voting, but let’s get everybody working who’s here.”

When Rotary member Kerry Johnson asked what Paul had planned for his personal future – with the rumors of a presidential run in 2016 – he replied, “Didn’t I say no hard questions?”

As the crowd laughed, Paul said he had not made any specific plans yet.

“I have been thinking about, and talking to my family about running for the nomination for the presidency, we won’t make a final decision until spring of next year,” he said. “I’ve jokingly said there’s two votes in my household, and at least one of them is uncommitted.

“But I haven’t really decided yet. But I have been traveling around Kentucky and around the country, presenting a vision and a message of how we would be a bigger and more inclusive party and also telling people frankly that we will not win again until we are a more inclusive party, until we have more African-American vote, more Hispanic vote, more Asian-American vote, more Jewish-American vote, any ethnic group you can think of, we’re not doing that well with. So we’re going to try very hard on that.”