Dear Charlie: You're back ! Don't waste your time. This is not going away.
Just as Mr Abraham Lincoln was not persuaded by racists when he freed the slaves, the noble Republicans in the US Congress will follow in his tradition.
Lincoln's history taught us that Republicans do what is right even if not in their best interests!
I will fight for the inalienable right of Statehood for the US Citizens of Puerto Rico until we win this battle! We have a noble cause, which is not in the best interest of the Corporate Welfare establishment which you know well!
We do not want to be a haven for offshore tax shelters in the Caribbean while our island and its' citizens wither. We demand the right to sit at the table with our fellow citizens in the several states.
Your letters and statements to members of the GOP do no good to the future of the GOP. We'll see you soon in the halls and offices of the US Congress.
Miriam Ramirez MD
Charlie Black: PR statehood ‘suicidal’ for GOP
San Juan, PR
Washington D.C. lobbyist Charlie Black has sent a warning to GOP lawmakers stateside that granting statehood to Puerto Rico would be “undemocratic” and “suicidal for the Republican Party.” In a letter addressed to “Republican Friends,” Black warns that Puerto Rico’s statehood movement spearheaded by the local New Progressive Party is dominated by national Democrats.
The chairman of the Prime Policy Group refutes claims by the NPP that statehood won the election day status plebiscite in Puerto Rico and urges recipients to “read my explanation of why it is suicidal for Republicans to consider making Puerto Rico a state.”
Most Puerto Ricans who affiliate with the Republican Party nationally belong to the NPP, the statehood party, and statehood is the priority Republican issue, he said. “But, the majority of members of the NPP are not Republicans. They support statehood, but back the Democratic Party nationally,” Black wrote. “Most importantly, most leaders of the statehood party are national Democrats. This includes former Gov. Pedro Rossello, a former chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and co-chair of the Gore campaign; and Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, a close ally of Nancy Pelosi.”
Black said most members of the commonwealth Popular Democratic Party affiliate with the Democratic Party nationally, although some business leaders in Puerto Rico are PDP Republicans. “So, Republicans have about one half of the members of one major political party affiliating with them and a few members of the other major party,” he wrote.
“So, Puerto Rican Republicans are a courageous, well-intentioned group,” he said. “Their advocacy for statehood among national Republican leaders on the mainland has garnered some statehood support among elected Republican officials.”
“But, the sad fact is that, if Puerto Rico were a state, it would send two Democratic senators and six Democratic congressmen to Washington,” Black said. Puerto Rico currently has only a non-voting resident commissioner in Congress. Black said settling the status issue would likely lead to an end of the NPP and PDP as island politics would shift to dominance by local Democratic and Republican parties.
He said Puerto Ricans who live and vote in the mainland U.S. consistently give 80 percent or more of their votes to Democratic candidates, making them the “most reliably Democratic” Hispanic constituency, voting more heavily Democratic than Mexican-Americans.
“The economics and demographics of Puerto Rico dictate this high level of support for the Democratic Party,” Black wrote. He warned that the high level of poverty and low per capita income in Puerto Rico would swell federal spending if the island wins statehood.
“If Puerto Rico became a state, its eligibility for additional federal welfare and healthcare programs would immediately add over $10 billion per year to the federal budget,” he said, pointing to Congressional Research Service-based estimates. “So, Puerto Rico’s congressmen and senators would work with the Democratic Party to increase spending for welfare, healthcare, and other domestic programs,” Black added.
The lobbyist said “a Republican might occasionally win a congressional seat from Puerto Rico, due to some political fluke.” Still, “most Puerto Rican congressmen and senators would be Democrats, most of the time. If Puerto Rico had been a state, Democrats would have won control of both houses of Congress in the 2000 elections, when Republicans kept control by thin margins,” he added.
Black said in the letter (dated Jan. 16) that he currently has no client on the issue of Puerto Rico’s status, but acknowledged working on behalf of the current commonwealth status “off and on for almost 30 years.”
However, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla on Monday defended the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration’s (PRFAA) $525 per hour contract with Black’s Prime Policy Group. That deal could land the lobbying firm as much as $250,000 in public funds in a four-month period through the commonwealth government’s office in Washington.
The governor, of the commonwealth Popular Democratic Party, acknowledged the contract but said his “administration would spend much less on lobbyists than the previous administration. García Padilla, a national Democrat, narrowly beat former NPP Gov. Luis Fortuño’s bid for a second term. Fortuño, a national Republican, has since taken a partnership at a top lobbying law firm in Washington.
“Remember that the talented Luis Fortuño won as a statehooder,” Black said. “If he had to run as a Republican, against a Democrat, in a state that casts 75 percent of its votes in the Democratic presidential primary, he would have a difficult time winning.”
Black takes up the PDP argument that the November 6 plebiscite fell far short of a win for statehood. The PDP says the math adds up to just under 45 percent support for statehood.
“Since becoming a commonwealth in 1952, the people of Puerto Rico have voted against statehood (petitioning Congress to become a state) four times. The high water mark for statehood in these plebiscites was 46 percent of the vote,” Black wrote. “In a non-binding plebiscite held in 2012, statehood received 45 percent of the vote.”
The two-part ballot asked all voters if they favor the current status as a U.S. territory. Regardless of the answer, in the second question, all voters then had the opportunity to choose from three options: statehood, independence or “sovereign free association,” which would grant more autonomy to the island of some 3.7 million people.
More than 900,000 of nearly 1.78 million voters, or 54 percent, responded “no” to the first question, saying they weren’t content with the current status. On the second question, only about 1.3 million voters made a choice. Of those, nearly 800,000, or 61 percent of those expressing an opinion, chose statehood — the first majority after three previous referendums on the issue over the past 45 years. Some 437,000 backed sovereign free association and 72,560 chose independence. Nearly 500,000, however, left this question blank.
The Puerto Rican Independence Party and the NPP maintain that the results of the two-step plebiscite represent a clear rejection of the continuation of the current territorial status. Those voting “no” included statehood supporters, as well as advocates of independence and free association. The Obama White House has said “the results were clear, the people of Puerto Rico want the issue of status resolved, and a majority chose statehood in the second question.”
García Padilla and his PDP argue the ballot was rigged against the current status and that the empty ballots represent a protest against commonwealth’s exclusion from the second question. He has pledged to hold a constituent assembly on the status issue in 2014.
“Anyone who knows how to count in Washington understands that 45 percent of the vote can’t advance statehood,” García Padilla said Monday.
Puerto Ricans previously have voted to remain a commonwealth in referendums issued in 1967 (60 percent) and 1993 (48 percent). In a 1998 plebiscite, the “none of the above” option won with 50 percent of the vote, followed by statehood at 46 percent. The “none of the above” option was added by the commonwealth supporting Popular Democratic Party to protest the definition of “commonwealth” on the ballot.
“Support for statehood has never received majority support in Puerto Rico, let alone a consensus. For Congress to cram statehood down the throats of Puerto Ricans would be undemocratic ― and suicidal for the Republican Party,” Black concluded.