How the tax bill affects an already struggling Puerto Rico

By now I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of polarizing analysis about who the winners and losers of the partisan tax bill will be among the American people.

You’ve heard words like “corporations,” “middle class,” “healthcare,” and “CHIP.”

One side is declaring it the biggest tax cut in generations, while the other is hailing it as the worst bill in congressional history.

Welcome to politics in 2017.

The fact of the matter is that the bill is deeply unpopular. But the other truth is that the long-term impact of the bill is merely speculation at this point. Republican-favored “trickle down economics” rely on the notion that tax cuts to big businesses – coupled with a smaller and more hands-off federal government – will ultimately lead to more jobs, greater wages for workers, and thus more money circulating for everybody.

Keynesian principles favored by Democrats say that greater government spending funded by taxing the rich will better stimulate the economy.

So we’ll see what happens. It will be debated for a while and economists will argue for years to come.

But one thing that’s been overlooked in the bill is the impact it will have on Puerto Rico. Prior to this bill, businesses on the island were able to qualify for both foreign and domestic status in terms of manufacturing and tax rules.

Those stipulations resulted in pharmaceutical manufacturers to incorporate there to gain foreign subsidiaries but still promote their product as made in the U.S.A.

The new tax plan makes it so businesses in Puerto Rico will be treated the same as those operating outside the U.S. Meaning we are basically just treating Puerto Rico like it’s a foreign country.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Puerto Rico produces more pharmaceutical drugs for the U.S. than any state or foreign country. The FDA estimates that pharmaceutical and medical-device manufacturing accounts for approximately 30 percent of the island’s GDP.

In other words, crippling this industry will devastate Puerto Rico’s economy, which is already in shambles. Basically, we’re kicking the island while it’s down.

As a result, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello is now attempting to mobilize Puerto Ricans across the mainland U.S. to vote Republicans out of office in the 2018 election.

As person of half-Puerto Rican descent, I approve of this message.

Again, this is just one aspect of the tax bill that people probably will not hear about. So while we may not know the full ramifications of how this bill will affect the American economy in the long run, we can safely say it will deeply damage our friends across the pond.

Which, in turn, may bode poorly for Republicans in 2018.

Stay tuned.

For like … 11 months.

Puerto Rico’s debt crisis: A blogger’s plea to save his homeland

Ideally, I’d like you all to believe that I am some type of mythical being. That I landed on Earth one day from a distant planet to fulfill my destiny of enlightening you all with the written word.

Sometimes I even wear a Superman shirt when I blog just to get into character.

OK, that’s not true. I did it one time, and it was because I wore it out the night before and didn’t change for like 36 hours. But that’s neither here nor there.

In truth, I’m a normal human just like you. Except I can probably spell better.

And while I have on a few occasions embraced my Jewish side here, I haven’t really tapped into the nationality I inherited from my mother, who was born outside the mainland United States in the great land of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico.jpg

Not many people talk about Puerto Rico. Lots may not even know it’s an overseas territory of the United States. Puerto Ricans are Americans. They don’t vote for president, for some weird reason, but they’re American.

And the country is also mired in a massive debt crisis.

That debt equals equals more than $72 billion. Almost half its citizens are living in poverty. Schools are closing. Doctors are leaving. 80,000 jobs have been lost, and people are migrating to the states in massive numbers.

While Puerto Rico’s problems have been compounded by extremely poor fiscal decisions by their own officials, plenty of blame also falls on our own government.

In short, we used to offer hefty tax breaks for American businesses to relocate to Puerto Rico. And they did. But in 1996, inexplicably, we lifted those tax breaks. Companies left, and the economy slowed. The late 2000s global recession only worsened it. And here we are.

Weird quirks in U.S. laws and tax codes, including the inability for government institutions in Puerto Rico to file for bankruptcy — like those in the 50 states can — are making it increasingly difficult to solve this problem. Even worse, hedge funds and bond owners who invested in Puerto Rico’s debt are lobbying Congress to not change bankruptcy laws that would otherwise help the overseas territory.

I personally think this is a watershed moment for America. This presidential election hasLin-Manuel Miranda.jpg highlighted how many of our residents distrust outsiders. It’s also instilled a zealous sense of patriotism in many.

Well, this is 3.5 million people who are different than the typical American — about 95 percent of Puerto Ricans speak Spanish — and yet, they are American.

Helping Puerto Rico is not only a national obligation, but it’s the right thing to do. These are people who need our help. And if we want to live up to the principles and ideologies that our country was built on, then Congress will find a way.

Color me skeptical.

And if you don’t want to listen to me, then listen to Puerto Rico’s second most famous son, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Pulitzer Prize winning creator of Hamilton, who was recruited by John Oliver on Sunday night to lyricize about this issue (skip to 19:00 to see it).

In a way, I think this forever intertwines the Weinblog and Hamilton. The two of us are now historically linked for the rest of time.

One of them is sold out until 2017, and the other is … well, my mom tells me she enjoys reading it.

Us Puerto Ricans gotta stick together.