As part of PROMESA, a Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto
Rico was created by section 409. The eight members are to be selected by both parties. On Friday, July 8, the Senate democrats designated Senator Bob Menéndez of New Jersey and Senator Bill Nelson from Florida. Senator Menéndez was a vocal opponent to PROMESA but Bill Nelson voted yes. The other six members of the Task Force have to be named no later than July 15, 2016, the date Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the summer. See section 409(c).
This Task Force is instructed to no later than September 15, 2016, provide a status report to Congress and no later than December 31, 2016, provide a status update that includes:
(1) impediments in current Federal law and programs to
economic growth in Puerto Rico including equitable access to
Federal health care programs;
(2) recommended changes to Federal law and programs
that, if adopted, would serve to spur sustainable long-term
economic growth, job creation, reduce child poverty, and attract
investment in Puerto Rico;
(3) the economic effect of Administrative Order No. 346
of the Department of Health of the Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico (relating to natural products, natural supplements, and
dietary supplements) or any successor or substantially similar
order, rule, or guidance of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;
(4) additional information the Task Force deems appropriate.
After this report is provided, the Task Force will cease operations.
What this means is that the time for this task force to come to PR, conduct hearings with the PR Legislature, the PR Department of Economic Development and Commerce, and the private sector is limited. Hence, it is likely the Task Force will rely on myriad presentations by NGO’s. One of the premier NGO’s in PR is the Center for the New Economy (CNE) an economic policy think tank in PR. One of its members, Sergio Marxuach, has testified before Congress on PR’s economic woes and is an open opponent to the Board, as is the CNE itself. He was purportedly offered a seat but declined. We must, however, examine the CNE’s structure in order to ascertain its intent. Mr. Miguel A. Soto Class, the CNE’s founder and Mr. Marxuach, its best know face, both have worked for PPD administrations and the latter was an assistant to the much maligned Melba Acosta. In addition, Mr. Antonio Luis Ferré Rangel is a member of its Board of Directors, as well as the Chief Operations Officer of the Ferré Rangel Group, the biggest business conglomerate in PR and statehooders’ most fervent enemy.
As with any NGO, the CNE depends on donations. Knowing who its donors are tells you a lot of the policies espoused by the organization.
In 2014, the CNE received a $1.9 million donation for two years from the Open Society Foundations to develop a ‘specific and measurable plan to increase civic capacity, transparency, and access to justice and equity in Puerto Rico’” . See also.
Purportedly based on this, the CNE has produced a paper entitled Devising a Growth Strategy for Puerto Rico in June 2016, which includes numerous policy proposals including the creation of the so-called growth commission that has taken shape in the form of the task force.
Why these developments? What has the $1.9 million donation have to do with anything? The Open Society Foundations was established by George Soros. Who is George Soros you may ask? Putting it simply, Mr. Soros is a currency pirate. In 1992 he took in $1.5 billion in profits by manipulating the English pound. and in 1997, he did the same to the Malaysian currency, see and here.
Mr. Soros is a modern day John D. Rockefeller, who acted as a pirate in business but gave generously to causes he approved of and is a heavy contributor to political campaigns. But what does Mr. Soros have to do with PR? Interesting question. Mr. Soros has been following the situation here and has called for bankruptcy and bailouts for the island.
Moreover, a day after the House approved PROMESA, “Brave New Films, a Culver City, Calif.-based group with ties to billionaire financier George Soros, released two films . . . detailing how Puerto Rico’s debt crisis has affected the island’s health care and education services.” Soros has even been accused of trying to push PR to purchase a very expensive information system to which he has ties.
Mr. Soros involvement in Puerto Rico has included a little publicized appearance in a Open Society Foundation in February of 2015 in San Juan, where he addressed the crowd of Government officials, union and banking leaders. It was reported that Mr. Soros called PR the Greece of the Caribbean and a U.S. colony. At this presentation he was joined by his buddy, Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize winner in economics who also has extensive ties to CNE. He is a harsh critic of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. His relationship with Soros runs deep. They co-narrated a book criticizing the George Bush administration; Dr. Sitiglitz is one of adulators in this Open Society Foundation video and cooperate in other liberal anti-market ideas.
In addition, Dr. Stiglitz is the founder of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, which is one of the two institutions mentioned by the CNE with which wants to cooperate, see page 11 of Devising Growth Strategy for Puerto Rico, ante. In fact, one of the authors of this paper is José Antonio Ocampo, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University and Co-President of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue. Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences.
What does all this mean? The CNE, Mr. Soros and Dr. Stiglitz oppose the Board, want a bailout for PR and deep haircuts for bondholders, i.e., bankruptcy. Since they will not be on the Board (or at least I hope so), the next best thing is to have a parallel structure advising Congress, such as the Growth Commission, which can be leveraged to influence the Board, and ensure it enacts policies that favor Soros and Stiglitz. No doubt this is the first of more to come..