Now that the controversial Republican tax overhaul is on its’ way toward final passage and is expected to land on the president’s desk within hours, observers have begun tallying the score.
The winners and losers of the tax bill itself have been well documented – spoiler alert: corporations and the wealthy win at the expense of the rest of us – but the political fallout is just now coming into focus.
The bill is incredibly unpopular, and Republicans are expected – and expecting – to take a beating in the midterm elections for selling out their constituents to deliver for their corporate donors, particularly in high-tax states like New York and California.
One state they didn’t expect to face much blow black is in the Republican stronghold of Florida. And one person they didn’t expect to lead the opposition against the GOP is Ricardo Rosselló, the Republican governor of Puerto Rico and an outspoken supporter of President Trump.
The bill, among its many transgressions, eliminates any incentive for American businesses to invest in Puerto Rico because it treats the island territory like a foreign nation. This couldn’t have come at a worse time for Gov. Rosselló, who’s been desperately trying to lobby Washington for more support to rebuild after Hurricane Maria. Some are even calling the tax bill Maria Part 2.
While they are U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans living on the island have no direct representation in congress. They, therefore, do not vote in federal elections. Puerto Ricans who have established residence in another state, however, can vote.
Many islanders who have fled the destruction of Maria have landed in Florida, which means any lawmaker in the sunshine state who supported this gut-punch of a tax bill should watch their back in 2018.
Gov. Rosselló said as much on Monday, telling reporter Alex Daugherty of McClatchy, “Many senators and congressman came to Puerto Rico and they pledged their support. But when the time came to support Puerto Rico, they essentially bailed.”
Rosselló had a special message for one Florida Republican in particular, saying, “I am very disappointed with the fact the Senator Marco Rubio is going to be voting for this tax bill particularly when we had the opportunity to address the potentially devastating effects on Puerto Rico.”
Senator Rubio is not up for reelection in 2018, but literally every other Republican federal lawmaker is. With so many Puerto Ricans now living in the sunshine state, all bets are off.