Puerto Rico Has Support From ‘Hamilton’s’ Lin-Manuel Miranda

June 17, 2016 by No Comments

Empty Theater ChairsWhile one-fourth of customers who pay their bills electronically only have to worry about an improved relationship with their biller, some don’t have that luxury. Puerto Rico is nearly $72 billion in debt, and they’re searching for ways to resolve it.

Enter Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the wildly popular Broadway show “Hamilton,” who recently offered his perspective on how to fix the financial and economic problems faced by Puerto Rico.

Quoting from Alexander Hamilton himself, Miranda implored Congress to “succor the miserable and lay up treasure in heaven,” just as Hamilton did centuries ago in reacting to a similar crisis.

To some extent, Miranda is getting his wish. The United States House of Representatives recently passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). The Bill will establish an oversight board charged with, among many other things, securing market access for Puerto Rico.

At the heart of the PROMESA Bill are two provisions. The first would set up a seven-member independent and outside control board for the island similar to the one formed in 1995 to resolve the District of Columbia’s financial difficulties.

The Bill’s second basic provision is that it would set up a framework for the voluntary restructuring of the island’s $72 billion debt mountain. This includes a temporary stay on law suits that might be brought against the island, which would be aimed at sparing the island from a legal free-for-all that could have costly economic consequences.

The Bill also includes the introduction of collective action clauses into Puerto Rico’s 18 different bond instruments that might facilitate a more orderly and voluntary restructuring.

Specifically, the Bill recognizes that Puerto Rico arrived at its present very difficult economic and financial pass not simply as a result of irresponsible public spending activities and mismanagement of its economy by the Puerto Rican government. It also arrived here as a result of the reckless lending behavior exhibited by its creditors.

The PROMESA Bill is by no means perfect, but it makes a good start to restoring economic and financial stability to the island without the use of US taxpayer money. Puerto Rican advocates like Lin-Manuel Miranda can only hope for the speedy and smooth passage of this bill.

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