Meanwhile, In Puerto Rico

Nov 7 2012 @ 5:58pm

US flag 51 stars

The potentially big news:

A slim majority of Puerto Ricans voted Tuesday to approve a non-binding referendum that would make the island the 51st U.S. state. The measure requires final approval from Congress, so it means little for Puerto Rico right now. Still, nearly 54 percent of Puerto Ricans voted for a change in the island’s relationship with the U.S. — and President Obama promised to uphold their vote in the case of a “clear majority.”

Olga Khazan explains what's in it for the island:

[B]ecoming a state would allow them to benefit from an extra $20 billion a year in federal funds –  something Puerto Rico could use, given its 13 percent unemployment rate. … Puerto Rico the state would also gain two seats in the U.S. Senate and five in the House of Representatives — a major upgrade from the one non-voting delegate that currently represents the territory.  

Puerto Ricans would also have to start paying federal income and corporate taxes, as well as run the risk of adopting English as their official language. Steven Taylor looks at the political angles:

I have long thought [of] statehood for PR as highly unlikely, because Republicans would likely see PR as a new Democratic state. However, the GOP clearly needs to find a way to cultivate Hispanic votes, and this might be a way. Beyond using it as a way to cultivate votes, the Republicans might have to worry about how opposition to PR statehood would play with other Hispanics already in existing states.

One other problem: the incumbent Puerto Rican governor who supports statehood, Luis Fortuno, lost to his status-quo supporting opponent.