President Obama makes pitch for 'Promise Zones' to boost depressed areas

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President Barack Obama announced at the White House Thursday the first five of 20 “Promise Zones,” distressed areas located in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, that will get tax breaks and federal aid.

He said there are communities across America “where for too many young people, it feels like their future only extends to the next street corner or the outskirts of town; too many communities where no matter how hard you work, your destiny feels like it has already been determined  before you took that first step.”

The president’s White House statement was part a renewed emphasis from Obama in the past few weeks on poverty and economic opportunity, a theme he promised that he’d continue to discuss in his State of the Union speech in two weeks.

He said it is not just city neighborhoods but suburban and rural places as well that have fallen into economic distress.

“A child’s course in life should not be determined not by the zip code she’s born in, but by the strength of her work ethic and the scope of her dreams,” he said.

Obama said the issue of helping distressed communities wasn’t a partisan one and he gave a special mention to Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a potential 2016 presidential contender, “who’s here today,” Obama told the audience in the East Room of the White House.

“I don’t care whether the ideas are Democrat or Republican; I do care that they work. I do care that they are subject to evaluation and we can see if we are using tax dollars in a certain way, if we’re starting a certain program, I want to make sure” that residents are benefiting from the tax break or program, he said

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