Commentary Magazine


Topic: Puerto Rico

High Taxes Drive Away Industries … and Boxers

The lesson that high taxes hurt business and, by definition, the communities in which those businesses reside is one that is proved every day by high-tax states like New York. That this applies not just to the financial industry and other victims of confiscatory fiscal policy but to all sorts of citizens as well is an issue rarely explored in the mainstream press. So it was fascinating to note that in the follow-up coverage to the first boxing match held at Yankee Stadium in 34 years this past weekend, the reason why promoters said a follow-up was unlikely was rooted not in technical difficulties or whether the sport (which was once, along with baseball, one of the only two truly national sports in the country) no longer had the sort of following that could routinely fill large outdoor stadiums.

Instead, according to Yankees executive Lonn Trost, the real problem is taxes. As the New York Post reported today, “the tax on a fighter’s purse is significantly higher for non-residents of New York than it is in other states, which would make it difficult to bring a match like the proposed superfight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquiao to Yankee Stadium.”

Trost went on to state that “Cotto-Foreman [the fight that took place this past weekend] could come here because the boxers felt they wouldn’t be overtaxed because they’re residents. We’d love to do [Mayweather-Pacquiao], but I believe both of them are non-residents and the tax could be as much as 13 percent on the purse, where the tax out in Vegas is zero. That’s a big difference.”

Personally, I’m not much of a boxing fan (and my pride in being Jewish was not enhanced by the prospect of Israeli rabbinical student Yuri Foreman punching out Puerto Rico’s Henry Cotto, who won the fight). But while liberal advocates for higher taxes routinely claim they are doing so to help ordinary New Yorkers, they ought to consider that in making it unattractive for fighters to perform here, they are actually robbing the people from the South Bronx and elsewhere in the city who work in the many jobs created every night Yankee Stadium is open. The failure to bring more such exhibitions to the city illustrates the simple truth that, once again, liberal economics has scored a technical knockout on the economic well-being of working-class New Yorkers.

The lesson that high taxes hurt business and, by definition, the communities in which those businesses reside is one that is proved every day by high-tax states like New York. That this applies not just to the financial industry and other victims of confiscatory fiscal policy but to all sorts of citizens as well is an issue rarely explored in the mainstream press. So it was fascinating to note that in the follow-up coverage to the first boxing match held at Yankee Stadium in 34 years this past weekend, the reason why promoters said a follow-up was unlikely was rooted not in technical difficulties or whether the sport (which was once, along with baseball, one of the only two truly national sports in the country) no longer had the sort of following that could routinely fill large outdoor stadiums.

Instead, according to Yankees executive Lonn Trost, the real problem is taxes. As the New York Post reported today, “the tax on a fighter’s purse is significantly higher for non-residents of New York than it is in other states, which would make it difficult to bring a match like the proposed superfight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquiao to Yankee Stadium.”

Trost went on to state that “Cotto-Foreman [the fight that took place this past weekend] could come here because the boxers felt they wouldn’t be overtaxed because they’re residents. We’d love to do [Mayweather-Pacquiao], but I believe both of them are non-residents and the tax could be as much as 13 percent on the purse, where the tax out in Vegas is zero. That’s a big difference.”

Personally, I’m not much of a boxing fan (and my pride in being Jewish was not enhanced by the prospect of Israeli rabbinical student Yuri Foreman punching out Puerto Rico’s Henry Cotto, who won the fight). But while liberal advocates for higher taxes routinely claim they are doing so to help ordinary New Yorkers, they ought to consider that in making it unattractive for fighters to perform here, they are actually robbing the people from the South Bronx and elsewhere in the city who work in the many jobs created every night Yankee Stadium is open. The failure to bring more such exhibitions to the city illustrates the simple truth that, once again, liberal economics has scored a technical knockout on the economic well-being of working-class New Yorkers.

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What Does It Mean?

Barack Obama is getting clobbered in another primary, losing more than 2 to 1 in Puerto Rico. On one hand, it is easy to say “Who cares?” The nomination is within Obama’s grasp and Puerto Rico doesn’t vote in November (making this primary the perfect coda to a bizarrely-constructed primary system). Whatever popular-vote theory Hillary Clinton is constructing won’t materially change. You either buy that she won Michigan and Florida, in which case she already leads, or you think she shouldn’t get to count those delegates, in which case Puerto Rico makes no difference.

But it does contribute to the sense that Obama is sputtering. In the words of the New York Times,

In many ways, Mr. Obama is wheezing across the finish line after making a strong start: He has won only 6 of the 13 Democratic contests held since March 4, drawing 6.1 million votes, compared with 6.6 million for Mrs. Clinton.

And there is queasiness about what other shoes might be dropping from Trinity or elsewhere. (Again, from the Times: “Mr. Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he would leave his church was just another reminder of how events continue to unfold in the race.”) So perhaps all she is left with is to sit back for a couple of months, watch the polls and the YouTube clips, and see if something might send those superdelegates scurrying back to her by August. If not, the Democrats have made their choice–a man who runs like John Kerry in the swing states, who for now trails John McCain on Iraq, national security, the economy, and reducing corruption, and who has forfeited his post-racial bona fides in the pews of Trinity United.

Maybe that’s why this didn’t sound like an “I’m dropping out Tuesday” sort of speech. If, come late August, the DNC needs a Plan B–Hillary will be waiting.

Barack Obama is getting clobbered in another primary, losing more than 2 to 1 in Puerto Rico. On one hand, it is easy to say “Who cares?” The nomination is within Obama’s grasp and Puerto Rico doesn’t vote in November (making this primary the perfect coda to a bizarrely-constructed primary system). Whatever popular-vote theory Hillary Clinton is constructing won’t materially change. You either buy that she won Michigan and Florida, in which case she already leads, or you think she shouldn’t get to count those delegates, in which case Puerto Rico makes no difference.

But it does contribute to the sense that Obama is sputtering. In the words of the New York Times,

In many ways, Mr. Obama is wheezing across the finish line after making a strong start: He has won only 6 of the 13 Democratic contests held since March 4, drawing 6.1 million votes, compared with 6.6 million for Mrs. Clinton.

And there is queasiness about what other shoes might be dropping from Trinity or elsewhere. (Again, from the Times: “Mr. Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he would leave his church was just another reminder of how events continue to unfold in the race.”) So perhaps all she is left with is to sit back for a couple of months, watch the polls and the YouTube clips, and see if something might send those superdelegates scurrying back to her by August. If not, the Democrats have made their choice–a man who runs like John Kerry in the swing states, who for now trails John McCain on Iraq, national security, the economy, and reducing corruption, and who has forfeited his post-racial bona fides in the pews of Trinity United.

Maybe that’s why this didn’t sound like an “I’m dropping out Tuesday” sort of speech. If, come late August, the DNC needs a Plan B–Hillary will be waiting.

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The Most Transparent Politician Ever?

Hillary Clinton has some grounds to be peeved. She, after all, was scolded by the Obama camp for months for failure to reveal all her tax records, the Clinton library records, and the White House logs. Barack Obama painted her as the captive of corporate lobbyists. It was shooting fish in a barrel–the public had had enough of the Clintons’ shenanigans and the press was mercilous in debate grillings and coverage.

But really is Obama any better? The Obama camp has played “count the lobbyists” for weeks, trying to convert John McCain into a stooge for special interests (which will surprise the business community which is none too thrilled to have someone as the Republican nominee who is so enamored of regulation). But in just one week we learn that Obama’s Puerto Rico campaign director is a lobbyist and David Axelrod apparently has his own roster of clients, although he desperately spins to avoid the title of “lobbyist.” (Didn’t Hillary take some flak for Mark Penn’s lobbying business?) And Obama hasn’t exactly given up closed-door fundraisers.

So is Obama any better on the lobbyist and openness front than Clinton? Well, he is less experienced and never made his way to a position where–for example–he took a healthcare task force deep undercover. In other words, his trail is not as long. But as the facts dribble out, it is not clear he is any more committed or able to rid himself of the “sins” (imagined or real, depending on your perspective) which he used to bring down Clinton.

Whether this apparent hypocrisy will hobble him to any degree in the general election remains to be seen. We will have to see if Jonathan Last was right when he penned that “Hypocrisy is the last great sin.”

Hillary Clinton has some grounds to be peeved. She, after all, was scolded by the Obama camp for months for failure to reveal all her tax records, the Clinton library records, and the White House logs. Barack Obama painted her as the captive of corporate lobbyists. It was shooting fish in a barrel–the public had had enough of the Clintons’ shenanigans and the press was mercilous in debate grillings and coverage.

But really is Obama any better? The Obama camp has played “count the lobbyists” for weeks, trying to convert John McCain into a stooge for special interests (which will surprise the business community which is none too thrilled to have someone as the Republican nominee who is so enamored of regulation). But in just one week we learn that Obama’s Puerto Rico campaign director is a lobbyist and David Axelrod apparently has his own roster of clients, although he desperately spins to avoid the title of “lobbyist.” (Didn’t Hillary take some flak for Mark Penn’s lobbying business?) And Obama hasn’t exactly given up closed-door fundraisers.

So is Obama any better on the lobbyist and openness front than Clinton? Well, he is less experienced and never made his way to a position where–for example–he took a healthcare task force deep undercover. In other words, his trail is not as long. But as the facts dribble out, it is not clear he is any more committed or able to rid himself of the “sins” (imagined or real, depending on your perspective) which he used to bring down Clinton.

Whether this apparent hypocrisy will hobble him to any degree in the general election remains to be seen. We will have to see if Jonathan Last was right when he penned that “Hypocrisy is the last great sin.”

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Intelligence For Dummies

Personnel with foreign language skills are critical to the success of U.S. foreign policy. And they are especially valuable when they don’t speak or understand the languages of our adversaries. That is what “diversity” is all about.

Confused? Here is Donald Kerr,  Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, explaining the paradox on May 16 at the Second Intelligence Community Heritage Summit.

In this work there are countless stories about the importance of diversity. There’s one I recently learned from an FBI intelligence analyst who had worked on Saddam Hussein’s debriefing team in Iraq. While Saddam was being interviewed, a key component of the strategy was to keep him isolated from people outside of the FBI agencies who were questioning him, but he was fluent in several languages. Not deeply so, but sufficiently, and the interviewers needed to find guards who could speak a language that he wouldn’t understand. It turned out to be really difficult. He knew bits of Spanish, but not the rapid fire Spanish of Puerto Rico. So Puerto Rican speakers would really flummox him, they certainly do me. And that’s what the FBI settled on for his guards. U.S. military members who were native Puerto Ricans in terms of the Spanish that they spoke.

So the importance of diversity comes up in even the most unexpected circumstances.

In this global conflict, this struggle with violent extremism, the clarion call for diversity, diversity of experience, of culture, of interest, has to be our call to action.

Kerr revealed some other sensitive secrets in his talk. Among them is a new danger.

We have to watch our words. . . .We have to avoid words like jihadist, mujahedeen. We have to be clear. It’s not just political correctness, it’s to avoid legitimizing the action of terrorists.

Our spies have recently made some other new discoveries. Here’s an amazing one. CIA analysts have been working the problem for years, and here’s what they found: there’s a big country near Japan, and like the United States, it is also “diverse.”

We need to understand China, not as a vast assemblage of 1.3 billion people, but to recognize that there are differences in different parts of China. We know there are different languages, different dialects and different cultures. That’s part of what we need to understand as well.

Is Kerr’s speech the final straw? Is it time to abolish the intelligence community and start from scratch?

Personnel with foreign language skills are critical to the success of U.S. foreign policy. And they are especially valuable when they don’t speak or understand the languages of our adversaries. That is what “diversity” is all about.

Confused? Here is Donald Kerr,  Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, explaining the paradox on May 16 at the Second Intelligence Community Heritage Summit.

In this work there are countless stories about the importance of diversity. There’s one I recently learned from an FBI intelligence analyst who had worked on Saddam Hussein’s debriefing team in Iraq. While Saddam was being interviewed, a key component of the strategy was to keep him isolated from people outside of the FBI agencies who were questioning him, but he was fluent in several languages. Not deeply so, but sufficiently, and the interviewers needed to find guards who could speak a language that he wouldn’t understand. It turned out to be really difficult. He knew bits of Spanish, but not the rapid fire Spanish of Puerto Rico. So Puerto Rican speakers would really flummox him, they certainly do me. And that’s what the FBI settled on for his guards. U.S. military members who were native Puerto Ricans in terms of the Spanish that they spoke.

So the importance of diversity comes up in even the most unexpected circumstances.

In this global conflict, this struggle with violent extremism, the clarion call for diversity, diversity of experience, of culture, of interest, has to be our call to action.

Kerr revealed some other sensitive secrets in his talk. Among them is a new danger.

We have to watch our words. . . .We have to avoid words like jihadist, mujahedeen. We have to be clear. It’s not just political correctness, it’s to avoid legitimizing the action of terrorists.

Our spies have recently made some other new discoveries. Here’s an amazing one. CIA analysts have been working the problem for years, and here’s what they found: there’s a big country near Japan, and like the United States, it is also “diverse.”

We need to understand China, not as a vast assemblage of 1.3 billion people, but to recognize that there are differences in different parts of China. We know there are different languages, different dialects and different cultures. That’s part of what we need to understand as well.

Is Kerr’s speech the final straw? Is it time to abolish the intelligence community and start from scratch?

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Lesser of Two Democrats

There is plenty of chatter about Republicans’ support for Hillary Clinton. Did they help tip the balance in her favor in Texas? Are they simply making mischief to help the candidate they believe will be the weaker nominee?

Well the chatter may get louder in the wake of the Reverend Wright revelations and yesterday’s speech. Republicans now are coming around to the view that Obama is a terribly flawed candidate. Put differently, Republicans have discovered that Obama is worse than they thought, indeed perhaps worse than Hillary Clinton, the Cruella D’Ville of Republican politics.

Even before the Reverend Wright sermons were fully exposed there was plenty of reason for Republicans to be concerned about a possible Obama presidency. When Ted Kennedy swoons, Republicans worry. In other words, they suspect (with some justification based on the National Journal rankings) that Obama is far more liberal than Clinton and therefore antagonistic toward Republicans’ long term policy goals. Deep in their hearts they suspect Clinton is just “in it to win it” while Obama actually believes the hype, the left-leaning rhetoric and even some of his policy commitments.

Republicans have long suspected, for example, that Clinton’s lurch to the left on Iraq is simply a feint designed to capture the nomination and, as General Keane suggested, she wouldn’t really put the nation’s interests at risk by pulling out precipitously. Obama? He might, despite Samantha Power’s wishes to the contrary, actually mean what he says. Heck, if he’s willing to have tea with Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez why would he backtrack on his pledges to the netroot base to leave Iraq no matter what? Clinton, these Republicans surmise, tipped her hand when she voted in favor of the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. See, underneath is all she’s not a fuzzy-headed dove, they conclude.

So if at least some Republicans had identified Clinton as the lesser of the two evils before the Wright revelations what must they think now? Certainly the concern that Obama either agrees with, or will play footsie with, the most extreme elements on the left has been re-ignited. (This, of course, is not just a Republican worry- liberals are fretting, if not panicked that their great moral beacon is ethically dim.) They now have gnawing doubts about the moral fiber of a a man who, as Shelby Steele put it, “fellow-traveled with a little race hatred.”

And the notion that with an Obama presidency we would escape the mendacity of another round of the Clintons? That hope has been tempered as it has become increasingly evident that Obama’s honesty quotient isn’t much higher. If it were, the same man who found Reverend Wright too controversial to speak at his announcement kick off would not months later insist “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.” Then there was an interview on Monday in which he came up with another excuse – he would have distanced himself sooner from Wright and Tony Rezko had he in been in Washington longer. Huh? That seemed, of course, to fly in the face of his goals to convince us that 1) he didn’t know about Wright’s statements earlier and 2) he finds Wright’s hate speech abhorrent.

Next was the speech. For many Republicans his effort to set up a moral equivalence between Grandma and Wright was just too much to bear. For Republicans, the speech shattered any illusion that for all his left-leaning views Obama holds the moral high ground against the Clintons.

So, it would be delightful, many Republicans still agree, to put a stake through the Clinton era of political savagery sooner rather than later. But in the end, politics is about choices. If some Republicans now seem to be rooting for Clinton, they may not be trying to game the system; they may just want to prevent the worst of the two Democrats from advancing one step closer to the presidency. Does it matter? Sure–Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Montana are all open primaries. So Clinton’s hopes may rest (irony of ironies) on these Republicans helping her to beat an opponent they may dislike even more than she.

There is plenty of chatter about Republicans’ support for Hillary Clinton. Did they help tip the balance in her favor in Texas? Are they simply making mischief to help the candidate they believe will be the weaker nominee?

Well the chatter may get louder in the wake of the Reverend Wright revelations and yesterday’s speech. Republicans now are coming around to the view that Obama is a terribly flawed candidate. Put differently, Republicans have discovered that Obama is worse than they thought, indeed perhaps worse than Hillary Clinton, the Cruella D’Ville of Republican politics.

Even before the Reverend Wright sermons were fully exposed there was plenty of reason for Republicans to be concerned about a possible Obama presidency. When Ted Kennedy swoons, Republicans worry. In other words, they suspect (with some justification based on the National Journal rankings) that Obama is far more liberal than Clinton and therefore antagonistic toward Republicans’ long term policy goals. Deep in their hearts they suspect Clinton is just “in it to win it” while Obama actually believes the hype, the left-leaning rhetoric and even some of his policy commitments.

Republicans have long suspected, for example, that Clinton’s lurch to the left on Iraq is simply a feint designed to capture the nomination and, as General Keane suggested, she wouldn’t really put the nation’s interests at risk by pulling out precipitously. Obama? He might, despite Samantha Power’s wishes to the contrary, actually mean what he says. Heck, if he’s willing to have tea with Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez why would he backtrack on his pledges to the netroot base to leave Iraq no matter what? Clinton, these Republicans surmise, tipped her hand when she voted in favor of the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. See, underneath is all she’s not a fuzzy-headed dove, they conclude.

So if at least some Republicans had identified Clinton as the lesser of the two evils before the Wright revelations what must they think now? Certainly the concern that Obama either agrees with, or will play footsie with, the most extreme elements on the left has been re-ignited. (This, of course, is not just a Republican worry- liberals are fretting, if not panicked that their great moral beacon is ethically dim.) They now have gnawing doubts about the moral fiber of a a man who, as Shelby Steele put it, “fellow-traveled with a little race hatred.”

And the notion that with an Obama presidency we would escape the mendacity of another round of the Clintons? That hope has been tempered as it has become increasingly evident that Obama’s honesty quotient isn’t much higher. If it were, the same man who found Reverend Wright too controversial to speak at his announcement kick off would not months later insist “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.” Then there was an interview on Monday in which he came up with another excuse – he would have distanced himself sooner from Wright and Tony Rezko had he in been in Washington longer. Huh? That seemed, of course, to fly in the face of his goals to convince us that 1) he didn’t know about Wright’s statements earlier and 2) he finds Wright’s hate speech abhorrent.

Next was the speech. For many Republicans his effort to set up a moral equivalence between Grandma and Wright was just too much to bear. For Republicans, the speech shattered any illusion that for all his left-leaning views Obama holds the moral high ground against the Clintons.

So, it would be delightful, many Republicans still agree, to put a stake through the Clinton era of political savagery sooner rather than later. But in the end, politics is about choices. If some Republicans now seem to be rooting for Clinton, they may not be trying to game the system; they may just want to prevent the worst of the two Democrats from advancing one step closer to the presidency. Does it matter? Sure–Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Montana are all open primaries. So Clinton’s hopes may rest (irony of ironies) on these Republicans helping her to beat an opponent they may dislike even more than she.

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Counting Down

McCain snagged 18 delegates in victories on Saturday in American Samoa and the Northern Marianas. With a win in Puerto Rico on Sunday he gained 20 more delegates to reach 996. The race very well could end on March 4 when 265 delegates are at stake. Mike Huckabee, after a Saturday Night Live performance that revealed he knows the jig is up, will presumably stick to his word and formally leave the race once McCain’s delegate count hits 1191. His continued presence has proven only the most minor annoyance to McCain and gave McCain the pretext to get on the air after primary wins over the last few weeks. Huckabee’s future job prospects remain bright. If nothing else, he represents a new style of leadership for Christian conservatives.

McCain snagged 18 delegates in victories on Saturday in American Samoa and the Northern Marianas. With a win in Puerto Rico on Sunday he gained 20 more delegates to reach 996. The race very well could end on March 4 when 265 delegates are at stake. Mike Huckabee, after a Saturday Night Live performance that revealed he knows the jig is up, will presumably stick to his word and formally leave the race once McCain’s delegate count hits 1191. His continued presence has proven only the most minor annoyance to McCain and gave McCain the pretext to get on the air after primary wins over the last few weeks. Huckabee’s future job prospects remain bright. If nothing else, he represents a new style of leadership for Christian conservatives.

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