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U.S. Is Not Innocent Of Colonization Puerto Ricans Pay Up, Too No They Dont
April 14, 2003
U.S. Is Not Innocent Of Colonization
At this particular point in time, let me recall for you a few chunks of our history. We occupied the Philippines for fifty years, Panama for longer than that, and we still occupy Puerto Rico, so colonies are not something other folks did while we stood around looking noble.
Occupying Iraq for a half century or so until we can raise two generations of Iraqis who would use the ballot box without shooting up the place would be a snap. But to follow Paul Wolfowitz's idea and go on to occupy Syria, Saudi Arabia and maybe Iran is nutty, even for him.
Old Rudyard Kipling said it best in "White Man's Burden": "Take up the white man's burden -- have done with childish days -- the lightly proffered laurel, the easy, ungrudged praise. Comes now, to search your manhood. Through all the thankless years. Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom, the judgment of your peers."
Charles L. Gerlach, Olympia
April 21, 2003
Puerto Ricans Pay Up, Too
The article, "Mayor signs bill to move primary" (Metropolitan, Wednesday), asserts: "Residents of Puerto Rico ... have no vote, but pay no federal taxes."
Although frequently asserted, the above statement is false. Residents of Puerto Rico do lack federal voting rights, but are obliged to pay exactly the same Social Security and Medicare taxes that fellow U.S. citizens in the 50 states and the District must pay. For most of our territory's wage-earners, moreover, those outlays far exceed the federal income-tax liabilities they would bear if Puerto Rico were a state.
In addition, despite Puerto Rico's parity with the rest of the nation in shouldering the Social Security and Medicare tax burden, its Medicare service providers must contend with a congressionally mandated cost-reimbursement formula that is far inferior to the formulas applicable elsewhere in the United States.
That's not all.
Because Congress denies our territory equal treatment under certain key federal programs, the government of Puerto Rico must make up the difference by imposing local income-tax rates that are more onerous than the combined federal and state rates applicable in most other parts of the United States.
In summary, it is unfair and inaccurate to assert or imply that residents of Puerto Rico enjoy a "free ride" on the federal "gravy train." Were that the case, then wealthy mainlanders would be flocking to our sunny shores to establish residence where they could exploit a "U.S. tax haven."
Instead, they come only as very welcome tourists.
KENNETH D. MCCLINTOCK
Senate of Puerto Rico
Mayor Signs Bill To Move Primary
April 16, 2003
From combined dispatches
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has signed legislation to move the District's presidential primary to the first Tuesday in January two weeks ahead of the tentative date for the New Hampshire primary.
Congress has the power to reverse the decision, although aides to Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, the Virginia Republican who heads the panel charged with overseeing the District, have said he would not interfere with such a move.
When both the House and Senate reconvene, they will have up to 30 days to overturn the District's decision to schedule its primary first. If they decline to act, it will become law.
The likely beneficiary of such a move would be the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose huge popularity among blacks would stand him well in a D.C. primary.
Mr. Sharpton's chances also would be improved because Democratic candidates such as Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri already have either said they oppose or will boycott an early D.C. primary.
Political analysts expect those candidates to do far better in the traditional kickoff states of Iowa or New Hampshire for various reasons, including neighboring-state ties. The Iowa caucuses precede the New Hampshire primary.
A D.C. victory for Mr. Sharpton could give him a bounce that would help his grass-roots, outsider campaign generate nationwide interest.
The move also has been opposed by the Democratic National Committee, which has warned D.C. Democrats that they could lose 30 of 38 delegates to the 2004 convention if they violate party rules on primary order.
Mr. Williams told a crowd of protesters one of the reasons for the change is to draw attention to the District's lack of voting representation in Congress.
"Moving the primary first will bring presidential hopefuls into our diverse city," Mr. Williams said yesterday.
"Residents who live in the shadow of the White House are not truly free."
DC Vote, headed by Ilir Zherka, described moving the presidential primary as a way "to walk from the back to the front of the democracy bus."
The mayor also proclaimed the day many Americans filed their federal taxes "D.C. Voting Rights Day."
Many of the 572,000 D.C. residents are paying taxes and some are now serving in Iraq, but they do not have a member of Congress who can vote on the floor.
About 200 D.C. residents who attended the rally to protest what they call "taxation without representation" held handmade signs with slogans such as "Uncle 'Sham' Wants Your Money" and "572-thousand People, Zero Votes."
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Democrat, can vote in House committees but not on the House floor. That makes residents of the nation's capital the only Americans without a vote in Congress. Residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other American territories have no vote, but pay no federal taxes.
Mrs. Norton and Mr. Lieberman reintroduced legislation in Congress yesterday that would let D.C. representatives vote in Congress.
"We have earned it, we have died for it. We have paid for it, and we must have it," Mrs. Norton said.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
April 28, 2003
Puerto Rico And Federal Taxes
Kenneth D. McClintock, minority leader of the Puerto Rican Senate, equates Social Security and Medicare taxes with federal income taxes ("Puerto Ricans pay up, too," Letters, April 21). Employing analogous reasoning, will Fairfax County forgive my property tax obligation if I prove I made an equivalent deposit to my 401(k)?
Mr. McClintock complains that "Congress denies ... [Puerto Rico] equal treatment under certain key federal programs. ..." Yet, the majority of Puerto Ricans have consistently rejected referendums on statehood or independence. If territorial status is so onerous, it is past time for Mr. McClintock to rally like-minded Puerto Ricans and opt for the independence so readily available to them.