Posted by Brad @ 9:37 am on April 29th 2010

Rigging For Puerto Rico Statehood

You can tell I’ve been tacking to the right lately when The Corner is back in my daily read (and not my daily “click over there to get outraged” read list).

Anyway, there has been some debate over there about the Puerto Rico statehood bill making its way through Congress right now (which I posted a bit about here). It’s not exactly sucking up the oxygen of Washington, although if it starts really looking like it’ll go through, that may well change (presumably, adding a 51st state is a bigger deal than financial regulation).

Anyway, three posts worth reading. “Stealth Statehood” by Naomi Lopez Bauman, “America for All Americans” by Alex Castellanos, and “Rigging an Election in Puerto Rico” by Indiana Jones villain Hans A. von Spakovsky.

I tend to reflexively come down on the side of both self determination as well as a throwing open of the doors of America. My first instinct on this one is to poo-poo the people howling about the prospect of the State of Puerto Rico—it being hispanic probably gets my defensive heckles up even more. But it does indeed sound like the current bill at the very least sticks a thumb on the scale in favor of statehood, in terms of its referendum process.

However, at least by my understanding, referendum isn’t really a requirement for statehood. Rather, it’s an extra hoop that we’re beginning to settle on as an additional requirement for statehood above and beyond those requirements as outlined by the constitution and the Enabling Act. Of course, it’s pretty easy to win the argument that a state shouldn’t be able to enter the union unless a vast majority of its citizens want it to, which is why Congress is including it in its enabling act.

But, at this point, Puerto Ricans are already American citizens. They already pay American taxes, engage in the American political process, and are provided for by our national defense which is composed, in party, by Puerto Ricans serving in our military. They just can’t vote. Which strikes me as obnoxious in the same way that D.C.s 600,000 residents not being able to vote does. At this point, I think statehood for P.R. ought to be expedited, although the process arguments of how to do it, as those N.R. guys are making them, are fair.


  1. Puerto Ricans do NOT pay federal income tax, only FICA tax.

    Also, unlike other jurisdictions, Puerto Rico municipal debt is tax-exempt to all holders, not just residents.

    Just throwing that out there.

    Comment by KipEsquire — 4/29/2010 @ 10:24 am

  2. I didn’t say income tax. They pay federal payroll taxes, social security, Medicare (though they only get about 15% what is due to them) FICA, and “All federal employees, plus those who do business with the federal government, in addition to Puerto Rico-based corporations that intend to send funds to the U.S., and some others also pay federal income taxes.”

    Comment by Brad — 4/29/2010 @ 10:32 am

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