In case you hadn’t noticed

by on November 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm in Current Affairs, History, Law | Permalink

A slim majority of Puerto Ricans sought to change their ties with the United States and become the 51st U.S. state in a non-binding referendum that would require final approval from Congress.

Here is more.

DCBillS November 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm

One might guess that their (large) subsidies could get caught in deficit reduction thus negating the advantages of their current status.

Enrique November 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm

But, at the same, the pro-Commonwealth candidate (Alejandro Garcia-Padilla), not the pro-Statehood candidate (Luis Fortuno), won the election for P.R. Governor by a narrow margin …

Also, for a formal, game-theoretic analysis of the PR status vote, see:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1516489

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Luis Fortuno came from the pro-Republican, economic conservative wing of the pro-Statehood party, which has a Democratic Party favoring and a Republican Party favoring wings (and members from both wings in his Administration). It is quite possible that Statehood preferring voters voted for Garcia-Padilla on the basis of economics. Particularly since Fortuno had made quite large cuts in taxes and spending.

Fortuna's Revenge November 7, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Good luck getting 75% of the states to support their application for statehood. And how much debt are they shouldering? $60 billion, for 4 million residents? That close to California’s debt load, a state with 40 million residents.

Frank Sinatra November 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

Please tell me why 75% of states need to be involved in this?

Fortuna's Revenge November 8, 2012 at 9:16 am

Congress has to approve any application for statehood by simple majority in both the House and Senate, plus the support of the president. But 75% of the states must ratify that application in order for it to pass. Do some homework on the subject.

Norman November 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

What 75% of the states? Congress has the power of admitting new states. Senate is solidly controlled by Dems and there are enough RINOs in the House to push the measure through. Now that Obama achieved the only thing he’s ever wanted to achieve during his first term, he is free to do whatever he wants. Say hello to the 51st state, say hello to the amnesty for illegal immigrants and more than likely prepare for our war in Syria where we will be tirelessly helping jihaddists.

j r November 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Don’t forget England. We’ll probably invade England to get them back for colonizing Kenya.

CC November 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Not sure if satire, but this post is exactly why the GOP is screwed.

Norman November 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm

How about you replace your vague invectives with something concrete? What, GOP is screwed because a large part of its constituency does not want to see Puerto Rico as 51st state? Or do you really think that it won’t ever happen? Or maybe you are so sure we won’t be involved in Syria? Did you forget Libya in what is essentially yesterday? Or, perhaps, you believe that amnesty will not happen? How could anyone believe it after 25% of it has already been done and our president explicitly states that it will be one of his priorities? What were you really trying to say? (If anything).

Young November 8, 2012 at 1:39 am

@Norman: I’m guessing CC is saying that your post exemplifies the attitudes of certain Republican voters: anti-immigration (“amnesty” for “illegal” immigrants), foreign policy led by concerns about Muslim terrorism (Syrian “jihaddists”), and emphasis on ideological purity (“RINOs”). And that CC considers this an albatross around the party’s neck.

Ricardo November 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm

As far as “RINOs” are concerned, it is worth mentioning that Ralph Reed has been a strong supporter of Puerto Rican statehood and he has apparently used his lobbying firm to help further this goal. I don’t know what to make of this in political economy terms but the point is that Puerto Rican statehood may attract some support even from a few conservative Republicans.

prior_approval November 7, 2012 at 11:43 pm

‘I don’t know what to make of this in political economy terms but the point is that Puerto Rican statehood’

Possibly gambling? – Ralph Reed is a big, big fan of money involving gambling -

‘Reed was named in the scandal arising from lobbying work performed by Jack Abramoff on behalf of Indian gambling tribes. E-mails released by federal investigators in June 2005 revealed that Reed secretly accepted payments from Abramoff to lobby against Indian casino gambling and oppose an Alabama education lottery.[15] Additional e-mails released in November 2005 show that Reed also worked for another Abramoff client seeking to block a congressional ban on Internet gambling. These cases are being investigated by multiple federal and state grand juries and by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Abramoff pled guilty to three felony counts in federal court, raising the prospects of Abramoff testifying against others.

Those e-mails and other evidence revealed the participation of the Christian Coalition in the alleged fraud, particularly the Alabama chapter of the Christian Coalition, which received large amounts of donations from the casino money. It is alleged that Abramoff engaged Reed to set up an anti-gambling campaign to include the U.S. Family Network, the Christian Coalition, and Focus on the Family in order to frighten the tribes into spending as much as $82 million for Abramoff to lobby on their behalf. To represent him in connection with the scandal, Reed retained defense attorney W. Neil Eggleston of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Eggleston served as White House associate counsel during the administration of President Bill Clinton.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_E._Reed,_Jr.#Indian_gambling_scandals

byomtov November 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

I don’t know what to make of this in political economy terms…

How about in Ralph Reed economy terms? The guy is a lobbyist.

affenkopf November 8, 2012 at 4:14 am

Are you seriously arguing that Romney would have been less hawkish on Syria?

Norman November 8, 2012 at 10:39 am

I think it’s very probable that Romney’s politics on Syria would be more pragmatic. He and Bibi might just agree that empowering Sunny opposition in Syria and destabilizing Lebanon might not be such a great idea.

Brian Donohue November 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm

By all means, ignore the hundreds in billions in already-earned but unfunded pension and retiree medical obligations in California.

Anon. November 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm

It’s safe to ignore them because they won’t be paid out.

Fortuna's Revenge November 8, 2012 at 9:17 am

You just making stuff up now? Also, take a moment before commenting next time and check out the status of PR’s pension system.

Brian Donohue November 8, 2012 at 11:02 am

http://www.calpers.ca.gov/eip-docs/about/pubs/comprehensive-annual-fina-report-2011.pdf

It’s like pulling teeth, but if you wade through this, they sorta cop to something like $70 billion two years ago.

Of course, this is correct only if the fund hits 7.75% compound returns (you have heard of the new normal, no?), and a host of other assumptions are met.

I highly recommend Josh Rauh on the subject. Here’s a great recent interview with Russ Roberts:

http://www.econtalk.org/

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm

It is a little complicated, and not really a majority in favor of independence. They had a two part question, the first question asked if voters wanted to continue under the status quo. This question received the response:
NO 934,238 53.99%
SI 796,007 46.01%
TOTAL: 1,730,245
EN BLANCO 64,123
PROTESTADAS Y NO ADJUDICADAS 12,720

Thus favoring change by 54% to 46%.

The second question asked what sort of association people would prefer: statehood, independence, or “sovereign free association,” where the latter was understood as not being the status quo but instead enhanced autonomy versus the current situation. The result was:
ESTADIDAD 802,179 61.15%
ESTADO LIBRE ASOCIADO SOBERANO 436,997 33.31%
INDEPENDENCIA 72,551 5.53%
TOTAL: 1,311,727
EN BLANCO 468,478
PROTESTADAS Y NO ADJUDICADAS 17,602

I have seen from various sources that most of the 468,000 blank ballots in the second question were from voters who favored the status quo and decided that none of the three options did they favor, since they didn’t want to endorse renegotiating the current autonomy at all. Some of the voters for “ESTADO LIBRE ASOCIADO SOBERANO” voted NO on the first question, not being satisfied, since the do want extra autonomy but not statehood.

Complicated.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Err, not really a majority in favor of statehood, I meant. Not a majority in favor of independence, either, but that got around 5%.

Kelvin November 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Free association is what US has with Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and Marshall Islands, all of which are UN members. The option mentions “between the United States and Puerto Rico as sovereign nations.” It’s pretty much independence from an international law perspective. In Canadian terms, it’s sovereignty-association.

Ranjit Suresh November 8, 2012 at 1:09 am

No, it’s clear that in comparison to previous referenda, Puerto Ricans are trending towards favoring statehood. This is the first time they’ve given a majority on this question. And the independence movement is utterly moribund. Until now, the status quo vote dominated.

Too much can be made of this. Puerto Rico is 3.7 million people. There are considerably more in the states. But if today it’s debatable, tomorrow it will not be: Puerto Ricans want to be all the way in. Under a President Julian Castro, their wish may be fulfilled.

Remember the Maine!

John Thacker November 8, 2012 at 2:27 am

But the previous referenda were different, with a single question on preferred status. See 1993 and 1998.

I don’t see how it’s so clear. The total votes for not “all the way in” free association plus blank ballots exceeded that of the votes for statehood. If you look at statehood as a percentage of the second question vote including the absolutely massive number blank ballots, most of which presumably would have voted for the status quo were it an option, it’s actually slightly smaller than the 46% statehood got in 1993 and 1998.

Am I looking at this wrong?

Brett Champion November 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm

No, you aren’t looking at this wrong.

Statehood actually came second to the status quo, and by a fairly wide margin too. Even if you believe that all of the statehood voters in the second round were actual pro-statehood voters, then at best only 33% of the total votes cast were in favor of statehood (61% of the 54% who voted for change). That comes considerably behind the 46% who voted to retain the status quo.

mw November 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm

This will definitely happen, I’m guessing right after republicans break the 40% barrier in latino electoral support.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Well, it’s right there in the RNC platform that the Republicans favor Puerto Rican statehood if PR votes for it, and everyone’s been telling me that everything in the RNC platform should be taken as a sure sign of what the Republicans will do.

DocMerlin November 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Bush broke that barrier.
After Bush, people keep electing those that latinos do not like.
We need to move Texas or New Mexico to be a cutout state.

John Thacker November 8, 2012 at 2:28 am

Incidentally, Pat McCrory (R) won 46% of the Hispanic vote in NC on Tuesday in an open governor’s race, running 15 points among them ahead of Romney in that state (9 points ahead with blacks, 8 points ahead with Other, only 2 points ahead with whites.) Sounds like the guy that the GOP should be learning from.

Enzo November 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm
Kelvin November 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm

First question in two-part referendum lumps statehood and independence into “not status quo” and then second question asks “if not status quo, then what”.
The “if not status quo, then what” saw 22 percentage point increase in blank votes (probably status quo supporters).
Statehood took 44% of votes cast in second question, which is less than the 46% of votes cast it took in the last two referendums.

Summary: I don’t think Congress is going to act on this one.

Cliff November 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Classic: you don’t like the voting result, so you change the voting methodology. Works every time.

Kelvin November 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

Erm, I really don’t have an opinion on this except that it’s a poorly structured referendum (again, they lumped the opposing statehood and independence options into “no” in Q1), and that we still get first dibs on the Turks and Caicos.

(I’m Canadian)

John Thacker November 9, 2012 at 1:22 am

Ah, you’re Canadian. So you understand the tricks of manipulating referendum questions.

Anthony November 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm

If Puerto Rico is admitted as a state, and Congress follows the precedent from the admission of Alaska and Hawaii, Puerto Rico would receive 5 congressmembers, increasing the total size of the House to 440 until 2022. PR would also have 7 electoral votes, out of a new total of 545. After the 2020 census, reapportionment would happen. PR would likely keep its 5 members in the House, which would result in 5 seats lost elsewhere.

If Congress decides to reapportion the House at the next election *before* the 2020 census, keeping the 435 members it’s had since 1913, then PR’s 5 members would result in losses of one representative each from Florida, Washington, Texas, California, and Minnesota.

Roy November 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm

This is very important.

I will never understand why we didn’t keep Those additional two sears?

If we added five seats for PR permanently it would fix the issue of the 269-269 electoral college tie as well.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I don’t understand why we don’t just keep adding more seats. It works fine for New Hampshire.

Anthony November 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I don’t understand either, though I’d guess it has to do with space on the floor of the House. There was legislation in 1910 ,a href=http://www.census.gov/population/apportionment/about/history.html>which fixed the number at 435, but what Congress does, it could undo. Before 1910, the number changed fairly often.

8 November 7, 2012 at 7:46 pm

You can’t go full banana republic until you’re growing bananas.

BracketCreep November 7, 2012 at 8:09 pm

If PR becomes a state, Mississippi can breath easier knowing that it no longer tops the list of highest percent living in poverty. In fact it becomes a *distant* second.

Miley Cyrax November 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm

What good would Puerto Rican statehood do for the rest of the U.S.?

Peter Schaeffer November 8, 2012 at 12:43 am

“What good would Puerto Rican statehood do for the rest of the U.S.?”

Check out student achievement in Puerto Rico (poor). Check out poverty (very high). Check out per-capita GDP (very low). Roughly 25% of Puerto Ricans collect food stamps.

The numbers are dismal. If we need a very poor Quebec to “enrich” America with more “diversity”, Puerto Rico is the place to start.

For some stats, see “On NAEP, Puerto Rican students lag far behind other U.S. kids” (http://gothamschools.org/2008/12/15/on-naep-puerto-rican-students-lag-far-behind-other-us-kids/)

“According to Education Week, Puerto Rican students have performed far worse than students in the nation as a whole on the math component of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test used to compare student performance across states. (The test, translated into Spanish, has been given in Puerto Rico since 2003. Puerto Rican students don’t take NAEP’s reading section.)

The students’ low scores mean that the many teachers in New York City whose students are recent arrivals from Puerto Rico must try to make up for the effects of a deficient school system. The number of students in city schools who have attended school in Puerto Rico is not available, a spokesperson for the Department of Education told me, but almost 800,000 residents of New York City identified as Puerto Rican in the 2000 census.

Virtually no students in Puerto Rican schools scored at the Proficient or Advanced levels on the test 2005. And while the 2007 scores were reported in a different format, they also show a wide gap between students in Puerto Rico and the rest of the country.”

Ed November 8, 2012 at 1:00 am

This is according to a commentator Daily Kos Elections, so you can take it with a grain of salt (though their horse race analysis has been quite accurate). Apparently Romney considered making Fortuno the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. And why not? He was as qualified to take over the presidency if need be as Romney, whatshisname didn’t do much for the ticket. and the margin in the election was close enough that every possible improvement would have really helped.

Ed November 8, 2012 at 1:18 am

Incidentally, what Congress should do is frame a statehood act, of course acceptable to the current fifty, and put it to the Puerto Rican voters in another referendum. If you are worried about the lack of English speakers or more people on food stamps, attempts to address those concerns can be addressed in the statehood act (and remember who makes up the majority in the House of Representatives). If Puerto Ricans really just wanted Commonwealth + or statehood on terms unacceptable to the mainland, they would vote the statehood offer down. I don’t think this has to be that difficult.

Chris November 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm

As others have commented, this was a poorly worded referendum, and it has dubious merit. People should not be saying that PR voted for statehood, because they did not.

The first question was simply whether they wanted something other than current status. That got a majority, but it made no distinction of what that status would be. That 51% would include statehood, independence, free association, or something else. So the first question proves nothing.

The second question was what non-territorial status would you prefer regardless of how you voted on the first question. In that question, statehood got a plurality (44%) out of the responses. But a full 26% voters refused to vote on that issue, probably because they did not desire any change of the situation and knew the question was rigged. We don’t know how many people voted for statehood based on the question, but actually would prefer to keep things as they are. So the second question again proves nothing.

Given the severe flaws of the referendum, nothing should be done at this time other than Congress pointing out its flaws and saying hold a better referendum that can actually determine the real will of the Puerto Rican people.

Furthermore, given the importance of statehood, a simple majority should not be sufficient for PR to become a state. At this moment in time, PR has the option of leaving its association with the US. As a state, it does not have that option. A one time minimum vote of statehood is not convincing that a majority of Puerto Ricans want to become a state because a similar vote held on a nother day might have produced a negative result. If the results are a supermajority like 60%, then we could proceed on those results. But it would also depend on how strongly the remaining 40% of Puerto Ricans felt. If that 40% was extremely against statehood and would not accept it, then actually accepting statehood would cause severe political problems. Far better to delay acceptance until that 40% truly reconciles themselves to it. I don’t know if such rancor exists, but I am using it only as an example of how even a supermajority for statehood should not be automatically accepted.

Puerto Ricans currently enjoy their own representation in various cultural events such as having their own Olympic team. That would all go away if it became a state. Did all Puerto Ricans who vote for statehood clearly understand the results of their votes? Hopefully so. But it would also be important to guage the level of support once making it clear to Puerto Ricans not what is to be gained, but what would be lost by statehood.

Moving forward, IMO there is one reason I believe why PR statehood should not be granted, and that is the language issue. Until English is the main language of the island, granting statehood would be a mistake. If we didn’t have millions of illegal immigrants hurting the USA’s ability to assimilate them, then perhaps granting statehood would not be such an issue. But it does, and there are valid reasons to avoid inadvertently creating a Spanish Quebec in the US with all the political turmoil that would cause. The demands of a multilingual country are hard. Most countries that have them are constantly rended by language disputes. The only country that doesn’t that I know of is Switzerland which has a very weak central government, and the cantons determine most of their own policies. For better or worse, the US does not fit that profile.

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