Too Little Too Late for Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis
EspañolListening to the speech by Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla on Monday, June 29, was an exercise in disappointment. The governor, who sounded nervous at the beginning of his speech, spoke in general of solutions, but once again avoided the necessary specifics. He mentioned some things that were a good start and some that were horrific.
First the good. He called for a radical restructuring of the Puerto Rican government. He referred to the problem as one of “math” which I have repeatedly suggested on my blog and at the PanAm Post. He called for bipartisan unity and he called for the creation of a special commission to report by mid August on the pathway forward.
He then took time to mention he hadn’t laid anyone off and was thus fulfilling his promise (the one that got him elected) not to do so. He repeatedly referred to the debt as unpayable; and then offered no real substantive changes.
He warned others who might seek to profit politically or financially from the crisis that the people of Puerto Rico would be “united” against them.
What… a… hypocrite!
That is exactly how he got himself elected. Calling for bipartisan support is the height of hypocrisy. The New Progressive Party (NPP) will not provide him the support he is asking for, because of one simple reason. He didn’t provide it for them, when they first tried to deal with this crisis four years ago. Instead he rolled his opposition and false promises into a major public sector union support and an election win.
I would suggest that if the governor wants support from the NPP he should first publicly apologize for having lied to the people of Puerto Rico and accept publicly that Luis Fortuño was right about laying off public employees.
I couldn’t help avoid the fact that his reference to “others profiting politically” was also a stab at myself and our Republican Independentist Movement (MIRE). While we are a small group, our influence is growing. So much so, that the governor keeps repeating the word “math” every chance he gets.
That is significant, because he never used that term before. It only occurred after I used it multiple times in my articles here and at the PanAm Post. In other words, he is listening and he is concerned.
A crisis like the one Puerto Rico currently faces can be used by opportunistic politicians like García Padilla to get elected or for his opponents to get their electoral revenge. It can also spur movements like ours to change the way things are done in a real substantive way.
Let’s review the MIRE plans for fixing Puerto Rico’s debt problem.
- Cut the size of government and lay off no less than 30 percent of public employees.
- Eliminate public sector unions and prohibit unions in all primary services.
- Make remaining union membership voluntary, no “closed shops.” Puerto Rico should be a “right to work” territory or country.
- Eliminate all taxes and keep only a sales, corporate, and income tax with all using the same exact percentage. No deductions for personal income so that no one will have to file a return or wait months for a check from the tax agency that may never come. Focus on corporate and business tax evasion.
- Eliminate regulations that impede business growth. This means ending many of the “protections” for workers. Workers rights mean nothing if the there are no jobs.
- Eliminate the minimum wage (the governor is actually asking for an exemption based on recommendations from the IMF).
- End the war on drugs, use part of the profits from drugs and other vices to establish a national trust to invest in new business and build wealth for the entire country.
- Privatize, privatize, privatize. There is no reason for the education system to be run by government. Private industry get do better, cheaper faster. The same goes for nearly every other agency and service operated by the government.
- Use independence to end the requirements to use the Jones Act shipping regulations and other federal programs such as the minimum wage (something the governor also suggested).
- Switch to nuclear power for both power generation and desalination to augment the islands water supply.
These are real concrete proposals. They will have real and almost immediate effect. Each one of them can be implemented within a matter of months (except for the construction of the nuclear and desalination plants) if independence is granted under my proposal, which is the MIRE proposal.
This article was originally published in Conservative News and Views on Puerto Rico.