Economy & Budget

Facts and fiction about Virgin Island's economic development and Puerto Rico's cash grab

Getting America’s economy back on track is Washington’s top priority. Democrats and Republicans are looking to keep companies in America, create jobs and stabilize local economies — particularly in economically fragile places. The U.S. Virgin Islands is one of those fragile locations, fighting through the recession with long-term agreements that prevent outsourcing to foreign countries and strengthen our economy.

Right now, a manipulative Puerto Rican attack campaign is working to discredit these agreements, our government and the companies that agreed to partner with the Virgin Islands. If Puerto Rican leaders and their hired guns can overturn our public-private partnerships and destroy our rum industry, Puerto Rico will steal hundreds of millions of dollars each year from the Virgin Islands.

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Progressives issue challenge to conservatives on war spending (Congressional Progressive Caucus & Out of Afghanistan Caucus)

It is disingenuous to say this is an “emergency” supplemental. The only “emergency” is this: In funding the longest war in history, we are putting America further into debt with China, expanding the deficit, increasing wasteful government spending, undermining our budgetary process, risking Social Security and solidifying debt that military leaders call our number one national security threat.

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Cuba: A seminal moment

Today the House Ag Committee meets to mark up a critical piece of legislation that will help set the stage for democratic and economic openings in Cuba. The “Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act,” (H.R. 4645) expands the scope of U.S. economic engagement with Cuba with the expectation that expanded commercial and people-to-people contacts will help advance democracy, the rule of law, and a brighter future for the people of Cuba.

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Captain Morgan raids poorest Americans

The highest rates of childhood poverty in the United States are in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where half of all children under age 5 live below the poverty line. The Territories also share America’s highest unemployment rates, facing deficits so large that Puerto Rico alone has laid off at least 17,000 public employees. Considering the island’s population of 4 million, that’s the equivalent of giving a pink slip to everybody in Dallas.

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Foreclosure prevention: More than a government solution (Rep. Edolphus Towns)

At the height of the recent economic collapse, the federal government stepped in with billions of taxpayer dollars to save the nation's largest financial institutions from going belly up. Today, the financial system is stabilizing, and some banks are even turning record profits. Sadly, the same cannot be said for millions of Americans who are struggling to avoid foreclosure.

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Next up, financial reform (Rep. Michele Bachmann)

The next big piece of legislation that Congress will consider this summer deals with reforming our Financial Regulatory system. Similar to the healthcare bill passed three months ago, this final bill negotiated between the House and the Senate is 2,000 pages of bureaucracy in which the people who wrote it don't even know what's in it. In fact, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the man most responsible for crafting this piece of legislation, had this gem to say about the bill:

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Budget enforcement resolution (Rep. Steny Hoyer)

Democrats take America’s $9 trillion public debt deadly seriously. We know that a debt crisis would severely threaten America’s prosperity, its national security, and some of its most valued government programs. At the present rate, the day could come when our government could not afford anything beyond entitlement programs and interest payments on our debt.

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The time is now (Sen. Blanche Lincoln)

My constituents want Washington to work for us, not the special interests like Wall Street banks.

That's why I stood up for Main Street banks, small businesses and working families in my home state by proposing the toughest reforms for Wall Street of anyone in either party, including the administration.

One of my reform proposals would make the $600 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market fully transparent where today it is completely in the dark, with no regulation, no oversight and no public disclosure.

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U.S. Virgin Islands' transformation built on new ideas and smart partnerships (Gov. John P. deJongh, Jr.)

The story developing in America’s Virgin Islands is a simple yet powerful one.  In the toughest economy in more than 50 years, the United States Virgin Islands is building the foundation for an economic transformation that will bring decades of benefits. One of America’s poorest locations, the territory has spent the past two years implementing a plan to modernize a core and historical local industry (rum-making), generate new revenue, create jobs and help the environment. We have established a template for smart economic policy that benefits Virgin Islanders and the nation as a whole.

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Setting the record straight on the rum issue

As poll after poll shows, Americans are frustrated about billions of tax dollars being handed to politically-connected corporations that have learned to game the system to their advantage.

There is no better example of this than the sweetheart deals that Britain’s Diageo, the world’s largest liquor company, and Fortune Brands, a major conglomerate that also makes rum, convinced the current Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) to sign.  The more U.S. lawmakers and citizens learn about these deals, the more they oppose the schemes.

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