Tag: Puerto Rico

Join Jim and Greg as they sort through the allegations against Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker from The Daily Beast and his own family – and what the impact will be on the campaign. They also roll their eyes as President Biden claims to have been raised politically in the Puerto Rican community. And they sigh over another emerging international hot spot, as North Korea fires a long-range ballistic missile that alarms Japan and appears to show the communist regime getting more competent with the technology.

Trump In It to Win It


Ballot boxPresident Trump has never accepted losing in his lifetime. Oh, he has certainly gone through severe reversals in the very cyclical real estate business. However, Donald J. Trump has always had an eye on the next win, the next big success. 2020 is not a carbon copy of 2016, but it most certainly is another instance of Trump Speed competition, in this case competition for at least 270 electoral college votes. To achieve that goal, President Trump spent the past three and a half years working to broaden his pool of voters, especially among racial minorities long ignored by the Republican Party.

Hispanic/Latino voters:

In a recent Florida MAGA rally, President Trump specifically called on Puerto Ricans to get out and vote. Puerto Ricans are United States citizens, with the same right to travel within the boundaries of the United States as other citizens. Following the natural disaster of Hurricane Maria, the man-made disaster of chronic and endemic political corruption made recovery across Puerto Rico very slow. This was due to both poor infrastructure construction before the storm and rank local corruption trying to extract benefits from the massive federal aid. Some number of Puerto Ricans voted with their feet, moving to places like Florida, where a Republican governor welcomed them. The great fear is that these citizens will vote Democrat in Florida, bringing the political plague with them.

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Before expiring at the end of the 1980s, there was a Federal tax break for pharmaceutical manufacturers who made medicines in Puerto Rico.  That allowed them to repatriate profits to the parent company without paying taxes. Since we now know that a goodly proportion of medical raw materials are made in China, how about killing […]

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Trump and DeSantis May Do Well by Doing Good [Updated 1 Sept.]


After Hurricane Maria fully exposed the extent of Puerto Rican public corruption and incompetence, President Trump allowed his supposedly expert professional advisors and disaster response agency leaders to drive the pace of response. As a result, Puerto Rico is still in significantly worse shape than Texas. Also as a result, Puerto Ricans, who are all American citizens, moved in large numbers to Florida, where they may well flip the state to the Democrats in 2020.

It is in President Trump’s and Governor DeSantis’s interest to very publicly show what a difference Republican leadership makes in response to a hurricane. President Trump took the first right step by canceling his trip to Poland. He is sending Vice President Pence in his place to commemorate Poland’s valiant struggle against the Germans and Russians, a place they find themselves in again today on the economic level. President Trump has communicated to the public and the government where his priorities lie.

President Trump addressed the American people on August 29th in a 90-second video, and had his team build in satellite time-lapse imagery of the approaching storm, to make the point of how serious it seems:

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see polls showing Republicans inching ahead in the Tennessee and Indiana Senate races, and other key pick-up opportunities are also in reach.  They also hammer President Trump for tweeting his objections to the death toll listed for last year’s hurricanes in Puerto Rico, especially as another major storm is making landfall.  And they react to George W. Bush hitting the midterm campaign trail for several candidates, but not for Sen. Ted Cruz in his own state.

This week on Banter, Andrew Biggs joined the show to assess the House Republicans’ recently released Tax Cuts and Jobs Act plan and to debunk the myth of the “retirement crisis.” He also discussed his work on the The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico to develop the island’s economy. In addition to his role on the board, Biggs is a resident scholar at AEI whose work focuses on Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public-sector pay and benefits. He participated in a seminar at AEI that analyzed the economic prospects of Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria. The link below will take you to the full event video.

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On this AEI Events Podcast, Jose Carrion of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico spoke at AEI about Puerto Rico’s challenges after Hurricane Maria and the actions that the board has undertaken to lead the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Mr. Carrion underscored that the board remains hopeful for Puerto Rico’s future despite the devastation from Hurricane Maria.

Following Mr. Carrion, Anne Krueger of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies discussed several recommendations to improve Puerto Rico’s economy, including introducing an apprentice wage and other measures to increase the labor force participation rate. She also advocated against abolishing the Jones Act, which increases the island’s shipping and energy costs. Cumberland Advisors’ John Mousseau pointed out the extent of losses in Puerto Rico and highlighted the need for a Marshall Plan–like program for improving Puerto Rico’s economy. Following Mr. Mousseau, AEI’s Andrew Biggs highlighted the problems with Puerto Rico’s educational and pension systems, which perpetuate Puerto Rico’s economic problems. Lastly, AEI’s Desmond Lachman discussed the humanitarian crisis on the island and stressed the importance of an International Monetary Fund–style plan, in which Puerto Rico would receive substantial support from Congress contingent upon substantial reforms.

Richard Epstein uses the recent push for independence in Spain’s Catalonia region to consider the question of when separatist movements are justified in pursuing independent statehood—and how they should go about it.

Question of the Day: Trump’s Twitter Storm on Puerto Rico


President Donald Trump was roundly criticized this weekend for negative tweets about the situation in Puerto Rico. That quickly turned into criticism about the entire recovery operation. The Question of the Day: How do you judge President Trump’s handling of the hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico?

The Ricochet Question of the Day poses a question about the news, then at the end of the day, we’ll post the best comments. Join the conversation!

After cheering the return of Steve Scalise to Congress more than three months after being shot, Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud President Trump for lifting the ban on foreign ships bringing critical supplies to Puerto Rico from the U.S. and they discuss the problem of getting the supplies form the ships to the people who desperately need them.  They also fire back at former First Lady Michelle Obama for suggesting that women who voted for Trump “voted against their own voice” and just liked the candidate they were told to like.  And they hammer NBC’s Chuck Todd for mocking Roy Moore’s beliefs that out rights come from God rather than government, apparently without reading the Declaration of Independence.

In this AEI Events Podcast, Jose Carrion, chairman of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, discusses the economic and political challenges faced by Puerto Rico. Following his address, a panel, including AEI’s Andrew Biggs and Desmond Lachman, exchange views on these challenges and propose a number of solutions, ranging from labor market reforms to stimulating economic growth through existing Medicaid reforms and the earned income tax credit.

The panel features Andrew Biggs (AEI, Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico), Desmond Lachman (AEI), Anne Krueger (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies), and Antonio Weiss (Harvard Kennedy School), and is moderated by Alex J. Pollock (R Street Institute).

Call Their Bluff


shutterstock_217629508Planned Parenthood plays a nasty and fundamentally dishonest brand of politics. First, it — like all leftist organizations — argues that healthcare is a right. Second, it presents abortion as an integral part of “women’s health.” Third, it presents itself as he great champion of “women’s health.” As such, if you attack its status as America’s Largest Abortion Provider, you’re invariably against not only women’s health, but women’s rights and women in general and are probably the sort of person who saw Mad Max’s Immortan Joe as a paragon of family values.

For years, this has worked well for them, sufficiently so that they were able to survive the reveal that they were happy to negotiate sale price for accept reimbursement for the costs of disposing the remains of fetuses they’d killed. But Planned Parenthood didn’t escape totally unscathed and congressional Republicans rightly concluded that the Democrats’ continued reverence for — and capture by — the slimy, lying provider of some 300,0000 abortions a year is a political liability. That, in part, is likely what motivated Congress to use language in their Zika legislation that — quietly — excluded Planned Parenthood’s Puerto Rican affiliate from receiving funding to fight Zika:

The conference report (the bill that emerged from negotiations between top Senate and House Republicans) included two pots of money of particular importance for Puerto Rico. There was $80 million through the Social Services Block Grant program, and $40 million for community health centers. By and large, these dollars were targeted toward Puerto Rico, where the Zika virus has been transmitted widely by mosquitoes.

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The Government of Puerto Rico borrowed billions of dollars it didn’t have to pay for welfare programs. When the bill came due and they couldn’t pay for it, they demanded that American taxpayers bail them out, and said not to do so would be racist. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who inherited the crisis when he […]

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Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy: A Test Case for States


shutterstock_171180104When Congress overhauled the country’s bankruptcy law in 1984, it added a new section — Chapter 9 — to address municipal bankruptcies. States, however, were not included. Separate from philosophical considerations of state sovereignty, the Constitution (Article I, Section 10) is explicit: “No State shall … pass any … Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.” The 1984 law explicitly treats Washington, DC and Puerto Rico on par with states for the purposes of bankruptcy law.

So now that Puerto Rico is insolvent, the island’s government is turning to the federal government for help. It passed a law restructuring its $73 billion in debts (it also owes $40 billion in pension obligations), but its creditors successfully sued in federal court to have the law overturned. Recently the US Supreme Court agreed to hear Puerto Rico’s appeal. Meanwhile, Democratic senators have introduced legislation to extend Chapter 9 protection to the island.

Republicans have so far resisted that call, labeling the move a “bailout.” This is hyperbole — creditors, not taxpayers, would take the hit — but the Republicans are correct on the merits. The island’s lenders took measured risks on the basis of the law as it was written; a retroactive rewrite would be both morally wrong and counterproductive. Just as importantly, what got Puerto Rico into trouble was profligacy, and Chapter 9 protection would do nothing to foster reforms. Absent changes to the island’s unsustainable spending and bloated public sector, it would only be a matter of time before Puerto Rico became insolvent again.

Let’s Demagogue Puerto Rico… For Federalism (Seriously)!


imageVia today’s Cato Daily Podcast, Puerto Rico is in a bit of a mess. Its economy hasn’t grown in a decade, it has net population loss (among U.S. states, only West Virginia has that distinction), and it’s got a debt-to-GDP ratio of 70%, more than four times that of the average U.S. state. And just this week, its state-run electrical utility is expected to miss a payment on its debts this week. It’s not quite America’s Greece, but it’s doing its best to audition for the part.

While many of these problems are the result of the islands’ own bad choices — among them, a refusal to publish its budget in English as well as Spanish, making it much more difficult for others to review — Nicole Kaeding explains that some federal policies are making matters worse. Specifically, she cites shipping regulations that artificially raise prices there (as well as in Hawaii, I presume) and the federal minimum wage. The latter has an enormous effect on Puerto Ricans: 28% of hourly workers there earn it, which means it likely prices many others out of the labor market entirely; unsurprisingly, Puerto Rico has an unemployment rate of 12.2%. If you have seven minutes, take the time to listen to the whole interview.

I think this has some excellent potential for use in the 2016 campaign. No, I’m not suggesting a “courting Latinos” strategy — though I’m happy for anything that works that way — but for using it as an illustrative, right-on-the-merits way to hammer Democrats on economic freedom that will put them on the defensive. Imagine Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, or Rick Perry saying something like this in a debate:

Puerto Rico Says Its Debt Is “Not Payable.” Is America’s?


Via Bloomberg:

Prices on Puerto Rico’s newest general obligations sank to record lows after Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said investors should be prepared to sacrifice if they want the cash-strapped island’s economy to grow. … With two days left in Puerto Rico’s fiscal year, the commonwealth is struggling to pass a budget that would allow it to make payments on a $72 billion debt load. Investors should work with the commonwealth to reduce its obligations, Garcia Padilla told the New York Times in an interview. …

Bear Week Begins


grizzlyIf you’re just waking up, chances are you’re waking up to the news that you’ve lost money.

The Greece crisis is being likened to an economic Sarajevo. The markets are sinking faster than I can type. Asian stocks began tanking hours ago. (Last I checked, the Shanghai Composite Index was down 3.7%; the Nikkei 225 down 2.4%; Hang Seng down 2.7%; Sydney’s S&P ASX-200 down 2.3%; Seoul’s Kospi … well, you get the drift. By the time I hit “publish” these numbers are sure to be down further.) The European markets opened a few hours ago and … wow. Stampede city.

Yesterday, Puerto Rico — well, I’m sure you heard: