Lin-Manuel Miranda launches petition to tie Puerto Rico help to tax bill


  • Photo via CBS
Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Broadway megahit Hamilton and all the good songs in Disney's Moana, wants you to sign a petition to include aid to Puerto Rico in the new tax bill.

The petition, which you can sign here, was created with the help of Power 4 Puerto Rico, and essentially argues that the federal government's response to the disaster in Puerto Rico has been "painfully slow" and also doesn't compare to its response to Texas and Florida.

In terms of connecting support to the new tax bill, the petition outlines four basic areas they want lawmakers to consider, which include removing the proposed 12.5 percent tax on the island, provide Medicaid parity to residents, a $94 billion relief package, and assistance with debt relief.

The petition reads:
The proposed tax bill before Congress continues to treat Puerto Rico as a foreign territory and includes a 12.5 percent tax on intellectual property for companies operating in the island. This would impact negatively the island's fragile economy, costing thousands of jobs. This is an easy one given that the tax doesn't exist yet. It can simply be removed from the tax-reform bill right now before Congress votes on this ill advised tax bill.

3.4 million Americans live on the island, but Puerto Rico receives only a small portion of the Medicaid funding that it would qualify for as a state. The island’s hospitals and health centers are struggling in the wake of the storm. We all have watched in horror how the death toll has been undercounted—by perhaps 1,000 people, according to credible estimates. With the health of so many at risk, let's provide Medicaid parity while streamlining enrollment to many who are not working and need health care.

Relief package
Congress must move quickly on the $94 billion aid package requested by the Puerto Rican government. The initial $5 billion aid package was far short of what is needed. Incredible partnerships with groups like the Hispanic Federation were made possible by the generosity of everyday Americans—including so many MoveOn members. That helped to provide food and water. But that's not enough.

Debt relief
Puerto Rico's creditors should do the right thing and walk away. It is the only way forward. Anything short of full debt forgiveness would be a brutal form of economic punishment to a people already suffering.
So far, the petition has gathered more than 150,000 signatures and has had vocal support from actor and Ted Cruz roaster Mark Hamill and 
Hamilton cast member Anthony Lee Medina.

Representatives from Power 4 Puerto Rico are planning to deliver the petition signatures to key legislators like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and more ahead of this week's tax vote.

Though the official death toll was 64, The New York Times and others are reporting that the death toll on Puerto Rico from Hurricane Irma may be closer to 1,000.

This afternoon, the Governor of Puerto Rico has ordered an official recount of deaths connected to the disaster.

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