Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Crisis Becoming an Issue for 2016 Presidential Elections

The federal response to Puerto Rico’s financial crisis appears to be a growing issue in the 2016 presidential race.

As reported in the Washington Post, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla has warned presidential candidates who are “passive” about extending Chapter 9 bankruptcy protections to municipalities in Puerto Rico that there will be consequences for their inaction. “Those who want the support of Puerto Ricans must help Puerto Rico now, not later,” he stated. “Puerto Ricans decide the elections in Florida. That’s very important. By deciding the election in Florida, we can decide [who is the next] president of the United States.”

Jeb Bush spoke out in favor of “treating [Puerto Rico] like the States” in the context of federal bankruptcy law before he made an official announcement regarding his candidacy. He reiterated this position recently and has also  advocated for Statehood for Puerto Rico.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has also spoken in favor of allowing Puerto Rican municipalities the same kind of bankruptcy protection available within States.

“Puerto Rico should be able to negotiate with its creditors just as states can under the U.S. Bankruptcy code,” he said in a statement. “Congress should approve Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi’s legislation that would allow for this to happen.”

O’Malley has argued before that the Department of Health and Human Services should treat Puerto Rico equally under Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. He said this again in his statement, and added, “High costs and low reimbursement rates are a huge burden to Puerto Rico’s budget and millions of U.S. citizens are at risk of losing care.”

“These are two steps we can take today,” O’Malley went on, “but I urge the Administration and Congress to work with Puerto Rico on a path forward that both provides immediate relief, and builds a foundation for sustainable, long-term economic stability.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s most recent statement on the issue can be found in a June 30th tweet:  “Puerto Rico’s debt crisis is not theirs alone. For PR’s economy to grow & their people to thrive, they need real tools & real support.”

Sen. Marco Rubio’s office also recently released a statement: “Senator Rubio has been closely watching events in Puerto Rico and is concerned about the economic situation there,” an office spokeswoman emailed the Washington Post. “He’s in the process of reviewing the legislation to make sure it is the right approach to begin addressing Puerto Rico’s debt crisis without having any negative impact on American taxpayers.”

Presidential candidates Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have not made public statements regarding Puerto Rico’s fiscal problems, however, they may be forced to go on the record with a position if the issue comes before a vote in the Senate.  Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) have indicated that they plan to advance legislation and seek a Republican cosponsor.  The Washington Post raised the possibility that Schumer will attach a Puerto Rico chapter 9 proposal to broader legislation under consideration in the Senate, forcing the Republican candidates to take a position in a recorded vote.

 

2 Comments

Chris

I think Rubio will take a bold step and come out in favor of allowing Puerto Rico the Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection mechanism. He has endorsed statehood in the past and as such he recognizes the power of Florida’s exploding Puerto Rican population.

This IS NOT a bailout (if it was I personally wouldent support it) it IS a legal mechanism. This won’t cost anybody a single cent. I hate how many of my fellow conservatives are ignorant and bigoted. As that old song goes ‘the times are a changin’ and we (the GOP) have got to change with those times. In just 30 short years the US will be the largest Spanish speaking nation, over a third of our fellow Americans will be Hispanic. We should embrace the future – Spanish is a beautiful language and I greatly regret not paying attention in my high school Spanish class.

Ion Slone

This treatment of a commonwealth is not honorable of our Congress in Washington D.C. who apparently want to receive our dollars, but are willing to ignore a basic right of bankruptcy that is afforded even down to the Municipal level in the States.

Sending Billions to other nations not so closely related for years, even arming those who could potentially be our enemies next week by either by intent or carelessness seem acceptable to our Congress with blinders on. Shame on the bias toward the Industrial Military Complex over your fellow citizens!

If you chose not to help Puerto Rico; at least grant them full Commonwealth Status, to give them options to address their quandary between a brick wall and no where else to turn thereby opening up other International options to find humanitarian States that will assist.

It looks like making the Banksters more wealthy by the so called ‘Bailout’ is a lot more important than helping the needy!

With my head lowered in shame,
Ion Slone

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