DC Voting Rights / Puerto Rico / US Territories

IN BRIEF: Puerto Rico Hit By Another Storm – the GOP Tax Bill

THE GOP TAX BILL TREATS PUERTO RICO LIKE A FOREIGN TERRITORY AND WILL DEVASTATE ITS ECONOMY

From Mother Jones:

The tax bill, as written, would include taxes on payments between US companies and their foreign subsidiaries and profits from intellectual property. At a Friday news conference in San Juan, Rosselló called the tax reform plan “a huge blow for Puerto Rico,” according to Caribbean Business, and, the paper writes, the bill would have an “adverse impact” on 50 percent of the island’s gross domestic product, 30 percent of the government’s revenue, and 250,000 direct and indirect jobs.

. . . . In an attempt to make it harder for US companies to avoid US taxes via foreign subsidiaries, the bill would impose a 20 percent excise tax on payments from US companies to their foreign subsidiaries. For tax purposes, the IRS sometimes considers Puerto Rico and the other territories foreign countries. That shift could cause the US pharmaceutical industry, which generates billions of dollars in revenue and employs tens of thousands of workers on the island, to shift production out of Puerto Rico.

From the Miami Herald

But having failed to force a change, Rosselló is changing tactics now that the Republican tax overhaul bill is headed toward a final vote. Rosselló said Florida Republicans will pay at the ballot box in 2018 due to their support of a bill that he says hurts Puerto Rico in its time of need.

“Everything is on the table,” Rosselló said. “We will analyze those who turned their back on Puerto Rico, who passed a bill that goes against the spirit of the law.”

Thousands of Puerto Ricans have moved to Florida since Hurricane Maria knocked out power to the entire territory in September, and Rosselló said that the new tax bill will cause thousands more to relocate when jobs dry up on the island.

ONE-THIRD OF THE ISLAND STILL HAS NO POWER –
THE LONGEST POWER OUTAGE IN US HISTORY

Puerto Rico has become the poster-child for benign neglect.  But after one-third of the island still does not have power months later, it is hard to claim this neglect is anything close to benign.

THE PUERTO RICO CRISIS HIGHLIGHTS THE FACT THAT THE US REMAINS A COLONIAL POWER

Many Americans were not aware that Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens, although they only have non-voting delegates in the U.S. Congress.  Fifty years after the great European powers shed their colonial territories, the United States has done nothing to address its colonial status.

The 16 territories have a population of 4,065,516 – which would make them larger than 24 states and the District of Columbia.  Puerto Rico is the largest of these territories with a population of 3,726,157 prior to the Hurricane.

The second largest “territory” is the District of Columbia, whose residents pay federal taxes but have no voting representation in Congress.  I have argued for many years, there is no justification for the continuation of the disenfranchisement of American citizens living blocks away from the Capitol.

The hurricane damage to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands is an opportunity to give a 21st-century evaluation as to why the United States still acts as a colonial power.  As Puerto Ricans pour into Florida and other states tipping them towards the Democrats, the Republicans might become open to a solution that addresses the District of Columbia and all the territories as a single solution.

 

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