U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has officially announced four witnesses who will testify at the hearing on Puerto Rican fiscal and economic challenges on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. The witnesses are:
- The Honorable Pedro R. Pierluisi, Congressman for Puerto Rico, United States House of Representatives, Washington, DC
- Ms. Melba Acosta, President, Government Development Bank (GDB) for Puerto Rico, Old San Juan, PR
- Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum (AAF), Washington, DC
- Mr. Sergio M. Marxuach, Public Policy Director, Center for a New Economy (CNE), Old San Juan, PR
Invitations to Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and GDB President Melba Acosta had already been reported.
Holtz-Eakin and Marxuach are both economists who have written on Puerto Rico’s economic situation.
Holtz-Eakin published a 2012 article highlighting Puerto Rico’s pro-growth agenda under then-Governor Luis Fortuno. The organization with which he is affiliated, American Action Forum, has also written more recently that “[t]here is nothing wrong necessarily with Puerto Rico seeking Chapter 9 protection, but it alone won’t solve Puerto Rico’s financial problems.” In this blog post, AAF author Gordon Gray further argues that increasing federal Medicaid spending in Puerto Rico, funneling federal funds back through their health system, would essentially amount to a federal bailout.
Marxuach published an article on the CNE website in July in which he similarly argued that Chapter 9 extension to Puerto Rico is necessary but no sufficient. In addition to including Puerto Rico under Chapter 9, he argued for equal treatment under federal health programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act; and extending the federal Earned Income Tax Credit program to Puerto Rico.