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Are 'Promise Zones' Really All About Politics?

By Bob Parks | January 9, 2014 | 10:48am EST

Almost every president knew the way to spur economic growth and create jobs is to reduce taxes and regulations. President Obama has resisted this for over four years and the United States has maintained mediocre growth and high unemployment.

The president would have us all believe he's found a new way to relieve "income inequality," which as of late, is a direct result of his policies and stubbornness.

Obama to Unveil First 5 'Promise Zones'

A curious name given the self-inflicted lack of trust he enjoys with the American people over his repeated, broken ObamaCare promise.

"President Barack Obama is announcing ways the federal government can help economically challenged communities through five new "Promise Zones."

"The White House says tax incentives and grants can help communities tackle poverty, giving children better chances at success. By applying federal funding in targeted areas, Promise Zones aim to bolster education, access to housing and crime-reduction programs."

Such a program existed while the president and then-Democrat-controlled House and Senate allowed it to gradually sunset...

Empowerment Zones
Tax incentives to locate businesses in, and hire residents of, economically disadvantaged areas.

Sound familiar?

According to the Associated Press, the president is seemingly approaching these "zones" in the same manner as he has some of his larger works: a lack of choice....

"Obama first announced the initiative during last year's State of the Union but is just now revealing the first zones to be selected. They're in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma."

"Selected" being the operative word. During the previous "Empowerment Zone" program, there was choice.

Applicant Eligibility: States and local governments.

"Applicant" implies states and local governments could decide if they wanted to apply for such a designation. The new designation of being "selected" is nice if your municipality was chosen, and given the Chicago-style tactics of this administration, the question could justifiably be asked, are the selected cities chosen by need or politics?

In 2012, Barack Obama won the cities of San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, lost Kentucky (and guess who's up for reelection in 2014?), and one can only speculate as to why the Choctaw Nation was selected in dark red Oklahoma.

The sad thing is the original Empowerment Zone was a concept of the late, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Jack Kemp, and if an area wanted the designation and the perks that came with it, they could apply. Again, it's not clear if being designated by D.C. bureaucrats is the only way to acquire "Promise Zone" status and how an area goes about getting their attention could be problematic at the least.

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