Last night, the 7th Republican primary debate was held in Des Moines, Iowa. The debate covered a host of topics ranging from social issues to homeland security, and to immigration policy. The debate was sponsored by Fox News and was moderated by Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, and Megyn Kelly.
Roughly half way through the debate, co-moderator Bret Baier, asked former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is on the record as an advocate for Puerto Rican statehood, if he supports a tax-payer funded bailout for the U.S. territory.
Governor Bush responded that he does in fact support self-determination for statehood, and that if he were Puerto Rican, he would vote for statehood. He noted that Puerto Ricans serve in the military and that with statehood would come all the responsibilities of “full U.S. citizenship.”
The former Florida governor also touched on the out-migration from Puerto Rico to Orlando. While Governor Bush does not support a bail-out for Puerto Rico, he does support treating Puerto Rico as all 50 states by including the territory in Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Below is text of the question and Governor Bush’s answer.
BRET BAIER: Governor Bush, you’ve advocated for statehood for Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican economy is collapsing under unsustainable debt burden. Only about 1 million of its 4 million residents are currently employed. So should American citizens who you say are already overtaxed, bail out Puerto Rico as well?
JEB BUSH: No, they shouldn’t. And I believe that Puerto Rico ought to have the right of self-determination. If I was a Puerto Rican, I’d vote for statehood so that they have full citizenship. They serve in the military. They would have to pay federal taxes. They would — they would accept the responsibilities of full U.S. citizenship. But they should have the right of determine — self-determination.
Before you get to that, though, Puerto Rico is going to have to deal with the structural problems they face. You know, it’s — it’s a fact that if you can pay for a $79 one-way ticket to Orlando, and you can escape the challenges of a declining economy and high crime rates, you move to Orlando.
And a lot of people are doing that. And the spiraling out-of- control requires Puerto Rico to make structural reforms. The federal government can play a role in allowing them to do that, but they should not — the process of statehood or the status of Puerto Rico won’t be solved until we get to the bigger issue of how you deal with the structural economic problems they’re facing right now.