June 3, 2015
The Honorable John A. Boehner
Office of the Speaker
H-232 United States Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
On behalf of the Center for Individual Freedom and its more than 250,000 supporters and activists nationwide, we urge you to reject H.R. 870, a bill to allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy.
As you know, after years of poor governance, overspending and corruption, Puerto Rico is weighed down by $164 billion in debt. Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierliusi and Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla are now working with fellow Democrats to lure Congressional Republicans into passing H.R. 870, which would grant Puerto Rico the ability to file for a Chapter 9 bailout, and allow it to walk away from its debts to creditors. While Puerto Rico’s financial ills are the concern of the United States, that does not mean U.S. taxpayers should be left to foot the bill for a Puerto Rican bailout.
Supporters of H.R. 870 claim it will prevent Puerto Rico from defaulting, but that is false. The bill is no more than a legalized bailout by U.S. taxpayers. Chapter 9 would be a devastating blow to Americans on the Mainland and in Puerto Rico who have invested savings – including lifetime and retirement savings for many – in Puerto Rican bonds. Moreover, Chapter 9 is akin to treating a bullet wound with pain relievers; it will do nothing to remedy Puerto Rico’s deeply-rooted structural problems.
Proponents of H.R. 870 also claim the bill is supported by Republicans. Let’s be clear: the conservative movement opposes H.R. 870. The truth is H.R. 870 is a Democrat bill with support from the Island’s left-wing political leaders and liberal Washington elites.
Puerto Rico has other, sensible options for dealing with its financial woes. Its government and municipalities, for example, could start paying for their electricity use, instead of continuing their free ride on the back of the Island’s heavily-indebted electric utility, PREPA. Congress could also take steps to implement an independent financial control board to oversee the Island’s finances, as it did on a bipartisan basis with the District of Columbia 20 years ago. Such action might be the best way to ensure that Island sees real reform, independent from Puerto Rican political influence.
Regardless of the ultimate solution, it is critical for you and other Congressional leaders to demonstrate that to govern well is to govern by adhering to conservative principles such as fiscal accountability and the rule of law. This is what Puerto Rico’s leaders need, not H.R. 870. We therefore urge you to reject this bailout for Puerto Rico.
cc: The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, The Honorable Steve Scalise, The Honorable Robert Goodlatte, The Honorable Tom Marino