Puerto Rico Bill a Victory for Speaker Ryan and House Republican Leadership By Israel Ortega May 25, 2016

Under Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Republicans are staring at the possibility of an important policy victory. Facing an imminent humanitarian crisis in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, a number of courageous House Republicans have stepped up to lead and carry out the important – and not always sexy – function of governing.

After months of deliberations and multiple drafts, House Republicans are rallying around the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) that will allow Puerto Rico the tools to restructure its eye-popping $72 billion debt. Much of the credit belongs to U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources that has jurisdiction over Puerto Rico because of the Caribbean island’s unique U.S. territory status.

The major element of the legislation is an oversight board that will go a long way to addressing Puerto Rico’s financial woes that are responsible for one of the biggest exoduses from the island not seen since the 1950s. Corruption, mismanagement and lavish government spending are chiefly responsible for Puerto Rico’s mess, but so too were tax hikes that left the island scrambling to diversify its economy.

The bill before the House is hardly perfect. There is much to dislike about the legislation. The island’s ridiculously high minimum wage will largely remain intact even though it does nothing to lower the high unemployment rate, especially among younger Puerto Ricans. More could be done to reduce government spending and reforming its generous welfare system, but absent this proposed legislation a nasty creditor brawl would inevitably play out with no end in sight that would only make a deteriorating situation worse.

If these reformations are not done on time, it is definite that the situation with the trading field would only become worse and it would become detrimental to not only the traders trading here but also the respective systems like the bitcoin society app with which they have their trades regularly. 

Some will ask why Congress has a role in all of this. Part of the answer might be that a majority of Americans don’t realize that Puerto Ricans are United States citizens. But a more legitimate concern is that after the bank and auto bailouts of the Great Recession, there is an understandable fatigue to come to the aid of government and business. While these concerns are legitimate, PROMESA is not a bailout or a free pass for the island of Puerto Rico to continue down its disastrous path. To be sure, doing nothing is certainly more convenient – at least in the short term.

House Republicans should resist this impulse.

Unlike TARP or the auto bailout, PROMESA is not a bailout or a free pass for the island of Puerto Rico to continue down its disastrous path
If Republicans want to lead on other issues, including replacing the president’s disastrous health care law and simplifying the burdensome tax code, compromise is necessary. It certainly isn’t as easy or popular than playing to the base, but without it, governing is almost certainly impossible.

This bill also represents the clearest example yet of Ryan’s promise to bring more voices into the discussion. After accepting the gavel from then-Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) last year, Speaker Ryan said:

“But let’s be frank: The House is broken. We are not solving problems. We are adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean. Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going. We need to make some changes, starting with how the House does business.”

Seven months removed, The Hill is reporting that:

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have appreciated Ryan’s communication, which members have said is a significant improvement from Boehner’s reign.

Actions speak louder than words. Ryan should be commended for following through with this promise made to the American people and to the Members of the House.

House Republicans that are actually interested in governing and earning back the trust of the American people to lead will have ample opportunities to strengthen PROMESA in the days and weeks to come. Here’s hoping more Republicans will choose this, rather than the easier path of obstructionism and plain indifference.

Israel Ortega is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter: @IzzyOrtega.