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Rand Paul in Chicago offers advice to Illinois pols

U.S. Senator Rand Paul spoke at an Illinois Policy Institute event Wednesday, May 27, at 1871 in the Merchandise Mart. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Asked what advice he has for Illinois elected officials, GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had three suggestions.

“I would term limit all politicians; I would have a rule, a steadfast rule to all levels of government that you could only spend what comes in . . . borrowing for daily expenses is a real problem.”

He made his remarks Wednesday at 1871, the startup incubator in the Merchandise Mart at an Illinois Policy Institute event, one of several stops in the area.

And his comments came after Moody’s earlier this month dropped Chicago’s bond rating to junk status. Two other credit-rating agencies also lowered the city’s creditworthiness.

Along with discussing taxes, the National Security Agency and criminal justice reform, Paul praised Illinoisans for electing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. He hired Rauner’s campaign manager Chip Englander.

“You have change at the top. I think you’re going in the right direction,” Paul said to applause.

Paul was also asked about Chicago Public Schools and the best approach to “find better quality education.”

His answer: “Competition makes everything better.”

The stop at the Merchandise Mart was one of many for Paul. Earlier Wednesday he visited the South Side of Chicago with the Rev. Corey Brooks. Paul was also scheduled to stop in Lisle for the DuPage County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Sheraton Hotel.

Paul’s visit to Brooks’ New Beginnings church on the South Side focused on crime, poverty, education and urban issues to a crowd of about 100 people.

“There is crime going on all across America. It is not a racial thing, it is a spiritual problem,” Paul said. “I think government can play a role in public safety, but I don’t think government can mend a broken spirit. Government can’t provide you salvation, government can’t save you. … Ultimately, salvation is something you accept yourselves.”

Paul also discussed a walk with Brooks to see a closed McDonald’s a few blocks to push his idea for “economic freedom zones,” calling for tax breaks in impoverished areas for businesses to encourage investment.

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Contributing: Lynn Sweet