Happy New Year, to everyone except the U.S. Citizens of Puerto Rico who continue to be trapped by Congressional inaction on relief from crushing debt, disaster aid to rebuild and re-energize, economic development programs to keep jobs on the island and Medicaid funding. Oh yeah, and for the power to come back after more than 100 days in the dark.
Puerto Rico cannot, and will not, wait any more. The 5 million voting Puerto Ricans and our friends and allies are the political driving force for real change and a sustainable recovery.
Will you help make Puerto Rico a Congressional priority in 2018? If the 5 million Puerto Ricans in the United States don’t do it, no one else will.
Amidst the worst natural disaster in the island’s history, Puerto Rico has been left – once again – short-changed of a Federal response that may never come. The longstanding absence of policies to address the needs of the U.S. territories has left the island remarkably exposed. A look at the past couple of years shows us just how.
- In 2015, the Governor of Puerto Rico declared the island’s colossal debt “unpayable” and acknowledged that his government faced recurrent defaults on its debt service. Relief from this crushing debt is still nowhere in sight.
- In 2016, Congress responded by passing the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), a law that lacked the economic tools its name suggested. At the time of its passage, Congress insisted it would provide Puerto Rico with the necessary tools in “another law”. This has not occurred.
- In April 2017, when Puerto Rico faced a Medicaid funding cliff, Congress provided the island with a short-term band-aid instead of structurally fixing the larger policy problems at hand. The Resident Commissioner’s office stated that Speaker Ryan assured her that legislators would address a permanent solution in September, when it would take up the S-CHIP bill. That has also not occurred.
- In December 2017, the tax reform law passed and with it came more bad news for Puerto Rico. American manufacturing companies on the island will now pay a surtax on income from intellectual property that could result in a reduction of 30 percent of GDP and the loss of thousands of jobs. Again, Puerto Rico has been promised relief to the onerous provisions further down the line.
- And as we welcome the new year, 50 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are enduring over 100 days without power. Estimates from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say that it could be May or longer before some residents get to turn their lights back on. And so they wait- or leave.
Puerto Rico is always kicked down the road to a later date because it lacks the political leverage enjoyed by other Americans in the 50 U.S. states. Puerto Rico is not waiting for Congress to act. Residents are fleeing by the hundreds of thousands. Nonetheless, the 5 million voting Puerto Ricans and our friends and allies are the political driving force for real change and a sustainable recovery. Will you help make Puerto Rico a Congressional priority in 2018?