Before the Republican tax bill passage, the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, told Politico that the legislation would hurt Puerto Rico’s already ailing economy as residents are still coping with a crippling infrastructure and shortage of power and water three months after Hurricane Maria. As a result, he’s dead-set on mobilizing 5.3 million Puerto Ricans living in mainland U.S. to alter the political landscape during the midterm elections in 2018.
Rosselló also noted that Washington’s policy decision-making “go[es] in the opposite direction of where they should go,” especially after all of the damaging effects of Hurricane Maria. “We are a significant voting bloc in the United States that perhaps hasn’t been organized very well in the past,” he said to Politico. “The diaspora, the Puerto Rican exodus has always wanted to help Puerto Rico, it hasn’t been crystal clear how they can do it. If we can establish that organization we have plenty of influence.”
The new plan—which President Donald Trump has touted as the largest tax cut in the history of our country—got rid of tax and manufacturing rules that enabled Puerto Rico to have both foreign and domestic status, Politico reported. The island was a tax haven for drug and medical device creators who could incorporate in the territory as foreign subsidiaries but identify their products as if they were made within the continental U.S. Under the new legislation, business in Puerto Rico will be treated exactly the same as those operating outside of the United States, meaning that they will have their taxes increase at 12.5 percent on intellectual property.
The Democratic governor said Puerto Ricans should be able to influence congressional district votes in swing states like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and also Virginia, South Carolina and Texas. His plan hopes to shed light on the island’s legal status, which he views as a “big elephant in the room.”
Rosselló and Trump seemed to have a better relationship weeks after Hurricane Maria. In October, he said in a meeting with Trump at the White House that the U.S. “had answered all of our petitions.” When asked by Trump if he did a good job, the governor replied, “You responded immediately,” but added that his island still needed more resources. He also requested at the time that Puerto Rico be treated equally.
During a visit to Puerto Rico in October, Trump applauded Rosselló for not playing politics. “He was saying it like it was and he gets the highest grades. And on behalf of the country, I want to thank you.”