Puerto Rico Bailout Passes House with Republican Support

FedUp PAC StaffPaul Ryan

Once again, the House Republican leadership has come to the rescue of big government – this time in Puerto Rico. The long-term consequences may harm all Americans.

Despite the determined opposition of conservatives, the House passed the bailout bill for Puerto Rico with nearly unanimous Democratic support and more than half of Republicans. Puerto Rico will now be able to write off at least some of its debt, even though lenders provided the funds with the protection of a constitutional guarantee of repayment. Puerto Rico has already begun defaulting on debt payments in order to keep funding its welfare state, and the House-passed bill will prevent the lenders from going to court to force repayment.

House Speaker Paul Ryan had made the bill a top priority and was not concerned that the bill was much more popular among Democrats than Republicans and was praised by President Obama.

The bill now goes to the Senate, which may feel compelled to act quickly before another $2 billion in debt payments falls due on July 1. According to reporters at The Hill, the Senate may even skip the committee process and bring the bill directly to the floor.

Conservative opposition among Republicans had delayed the bill for several months, and did force some concessions. Puerto Rico will have to submit its financial decisions to a control board, much like the one that handled the District of Columbia’s debt crisis two decade ago. Some welfare state spending may be cut and the minimum wage can be reduced.

However, there is a good reason why Democrats, after protesting the concessions, voted for the bill. Everything depends on the decisions of the control board, and its members will be chosen by Obama, Pelosi, Reid, McConnell, and Ryan. It would be astonishing if the board was not packed with members of the establishment, people who can be trusted to play the Big Government game. House conservatives understood this, and decided to vote against the bill.

An even greater concern is that the Puerto Rico bill is likely to serve as a precedent for bailing out states, such as Illinois, that face similar debt problems. (Federal law does not allow states to declare bankruptcy.) A bailout is of exceptional interest to public employee unions. After winning generous retirement benefits that were not properly funded and cannot be paid by the states, they are determined to find someone else to pick up the tab. If the Puerto Rico bailout becomes law, there can be no doubt that they are closer to victory.

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