The governor of Puerto Rico is storming through Washington Thursday in an 11th hour bid to take the sting out of the just-passed tax reform that hits island businesses and to get a good share of disaster aid.
Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló told Secrets, “It will be critical for us to get the appropriate support on the supplemental; not only the dollar amount and fair treatment, but also flexibility, resources for healthcare, and important tax provisions form Puerto Rico that were not considered in the tax reform bill.”
He comes armed with a threat: Rosselló said he will tap the millions of Puerto Ricans in the 50 states to pressure or oppose mostly Republicans in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections if the island doesn’t get what it wants.
"Puerto Rico was devastated as a result of Hurricane Maria, the worst disaster in FEMA's recorded history, but we are determined to rebuild in a transparent and responsible manner. Regarding the supplemental relief package, I am not asking for anything more, or anything less, than what any other state would receive,” he added.
Two issues are driving his election revenge threat.
The first is the tax bill that treats businesses on the island as if they are foreign firms, even though Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. Tax laws treat the island differently than the rest of the nation and the tax bill includes a new 12.5 percent tax on profits derived from intellectual property held by overseas firms. The idea in the tax is to drive firms back to the U.S.
Rosselló has said the tax provision would be “a huge blow” that would negatively affect 50 percent of the island’s gross national product, 30 percent of the government’s revenue and more than 250,000 jobs.
The other is the disaster funding bill and Puerto Rico’s concerns that it won’t get its fair share. It is competing with Texas and Florida, also hit by hurricane disasters this year.
In a move that he hopes will help his cause, Rosselló recently signed a law to provide sweeping government reform and transparency in how recovery money is spent on the island that is still reeling from Maria.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com