“I support the Tennessee Plan…100 percent!” said Juan Bobo, then rode off into the sunset. Later that night, he explained why.
“Ricky Roselló is an idiot,” said Bobo. “His Tennessee Plan is ridiculous, and when it blows up in his face, the only remaining option will be independence for Puerto Rico. That’s why I’m a big supporter of the Tennessee Plan!”
Bobo shoots a raccoon for dinner, like they do in Tennessee
Juan Bobo is usually right, so let’s examine his claims:
Ricky’s Tennessee Plan
During his campaign Ricky Roselló, the governor-elect of Puerto Rico, promised to follow “The Tennessee Plan” in order to make Puerto Rico the 51st state of the U.S. This was an aggressive tactic which enabled Tennessee to join the Union 220 years ago, in 1796.
Now in 2016, the Tennessee Plan is a bold political strategy. It will garner much attention for the young governor. But will it work? Will it succeed in forcing the issue, of achieving statehood for Puerto Rico?
Let us consider the factors…
President Trump and Wall Street
Puerto Rico allegedly “owes” $72 billion, and its central government is broke.
Worse yet, the island is expected to run an additional deficit of $5 billion this year, and again in 2017, as additional bond payments become due.
If Puerto Rico were to acquire statehood, it would immediately qualify for Chapter 9 bankruptcy relief, and would immediately be empowered to re-negotiate and re-structure its alleged $72 billion debt.
Neither Trump nor Wall Street, and certainly not a GOP congress, will allow this.
As the 51st state, Puerto Rico would send two US senators and five congresspersons to Washington.
All of them would be Democrats.
Do you think the GOP will allow that?
In addition, five states would each lose a congressperson, to accommodate the five incoming legislators from Puerto Rico.
Can you name five states that will hand their congressional seat to Puerto Rico?
U.S. Supreme Court
After 64 years of denial, the U.S. Supreme Court finally came out and said it in 2016: Puerto Rico is a “territorial possession” of the United States. In other words…a colony.
With a 6-2 majority decision in Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle, and again in the Franklin Trust case, the Court made it clear that the U.S. owns Puerto Rico as a territory of the U.S.
There was no ambiguity in its language: “Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States in 1898, as a result of the Spanish-American War.” It further stated that “U.S. territories are not sovereigns distinct from the United States.”
Here is the entire decision…you can read it for yourself.
The only mechanism for altering this colonial relationship is the U.S. congress, which has plenary jurisdiction over Puerto Rico.
And congress won’t do it.
The U.S. Economic System
Puerto Rican debt instruments are wildly popular on Wall Street because they are “triple tax exempt.” Bondholders and investors don’t have to pay any federal, state or local taxes on them. This tax benefit would disappear if the island were to become a state: so Wall Street has no interest in Puerto Rican statehood.
Thanks to Citizens United v. FEC, Wall Street will hire lobbyists and give unlimited sums of money – over and under the table – to congress persons who will oppose statehood.
Controlled Foreign Corporations (CFCs) who use Puerto Rico as a tax shelter – allowing them to pay a 2 percent tax rate, rather than the US corporate rate of 35 percent – will also hire lobbyists and pay congress persons to oppose Puerto Rican statehood.
The unions in Jacksonville, the four Jones Act carrier companies (Horizon, Crowley, Sea Star, Trailer Bridge) and the American Maritime Partnership will also hire lobbyists and buy congress persons to oppose Puerto Rican statehood, since that could eventually lead to Jones Act reform and an end to the cabotage law in Puerto Rico.
Add to this list every car manufacturer, consumer products company, food & beverage distributor, and oil company that sells goods to Puerto Rico at a 15% additional mark-up, due to the Jones Act.
All of the above-named interests will fiercely oppose statehood for Puerto Rico.
American Public Opinion
When a Puerto Rican won the Powerball in 2015, the internet exploded with racist invective.
Also in ‘15, Ann Coulter published Adios, America – portraying Latinos as rapists, murderers and welfare cheats – and the book was a New York Times best seller.
In 2016 Donald Trump beat up on Latinos, called them rapists, threatened to deport them, and promised to “build a wall” to keep them out of the U.S.
With this platform, Trump was elected as President of the U.S.
Does this sound like an American public that will phone their congressman, and demand that Puerto Rico become the 51st state?
The “Tennessee Plan”
In 1796, Tennessee sent a congressional delegation to Washington and demanded that the U.S. make Tennessee a state.
Now 220 years later…Ricky Roselló wants to hold congressional elections in Puerto Rico, send the “congressmen” to Washington, and demand that the U.S. recognize Puerto Rico as the 51st state.
That is his “Tennessee Plan” for Puerto Rico. But there are a few problems with it.
In short, the pathway for Rosello’s plan is extremely narrow. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t try it.
In fact, as a simple process of deductive reasoning, the governor-elect should pursue his quixotic Tennessee Plan.
If it succeeds…the governorship of Ricky Roselló will indeed be historic.
If it fails…the options for Puerto Rico’s political future will become clearer, for all the world to see.
That is why Juan Bobo is supporting the Tennessee Plan.
Because it is bound to FAIL.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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