Earlier, we noted that Charlie Rangel has been getting huge numbers of contributions from the Virgin Islands, and we tied it to his blocking legislation that cuts payments to rum producers in the Virgin Islands.
Several weeks ago, the Washington Times reported that Puerto Rico has turned on the contributions also. What’s going on?
The answer is that Charlie Rangel is holding Puerto Rican grandmothers hostage (via Medicare payments) to protect his rum buddies.
First, let’s start with the Washington Times. There’s a lot of Puerto Rican money going into Rangel coffers:
Donors in Puerto Rico poured $36,600 into Mr. Rangel’s war chest, an amount surpassed only by the $138,400 from donors in his home state of New York.
In four of the five previous years, the Virgin Islands ranked in the top 10 sources for contributions to Mr. Rangel. Puerto Rico didn’t make the list in any of those years.
Contributions to Mr. Rangel from the Virgin Islands totaled more than $167,00 between 1999 and 2008. More than half of that – $84,800 – was given during the 2007-08 election cycle, just as the islands sealed the deal to relocate Captain Morgan and give the liquor company about $2.7 billion in tax credits and other subsidies over 30 years.
The Times notes that there are two bills, a bill that extends a system that gives Diageo and other rum companies more subsidy per unit rum than it takes to produce it (supported by the Virgin Islands), or one that ends the subsidy system (supported by Puerto Rico).
Sounds like a boring, good ole’ corporate smackdown, right? Wrong.
You see, there’s another issue in play. Puerto Rico gets much lower Medicare reimbursements than the rest of the country. Pushing this is a top priority. There have been promises that this would come as part of any health care reform bill.
So Charlie Rangel has opened up a new front on the Puerto Ricans. Or, really, on their grandmas. He has told several people now that if Puerto Rico doesn’t stop pushing for changes to the rum laws (that help his buddies), he will not address the Puerto Rican Medicare situation.
In other words, Charlie Rangel is holding Puerto Rican grandmas hostage for his rum-running buddies. An interesting inversion of the historical pattern.