After years of economic mismanagement and stagnation, Puerto Rico faces a stark, scary reality: The island commonwealth is stuck with $72 billion in debt that’s simply “not payable.” Ironically, while liberal policies played a big part in precipitating the current crisis, it’s liberals who are primed to benefit: Puerto Ricans are fleeing to the U.S. mainland in droves, as they have been for years, giving Democrats a fresh influx of voters who could swing the 2016 presidential election.
Big government policies in Puerto Rico have created generations of dependent families stuck in poverty. The situation there is bleak: nearly 40 percent of households rely on food stamps. The workforce participation rate is a pathetic 40 percent, thanks to over-regulation, an impossibly high U.S. minimum wage, and welfare programs that often pay better than jobs. The island can’t even afford to pay its teachers, cops, or firefighters without issuing bonds.
These problems are not new. More than ten years ago, the commonwealth’s economy took a hit when environmentalists and anti-war activists persuaded the U.S. military to leave the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. Training had been conducted there at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, one of the world’s largest U.S. Navy facilities, since 1941. With the Navy’s departure, nearly 4,000 civilian jobs, 3,000 active-duty sailors, and $250 million that the facility had pumped into the local economy each year vanished.
Read the rest of this article in the National Review.