Puerto Rico’s miracle man

Former member, U.S. House of Representatives; currently governor; holder of a law degree from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s from Georgetown; Reagan Republican; 50 years old.  With credentials like these, one might conclude quickly I am referring to one of America’s higher-profile 2012 Republican presidential contenders. No; at least not yet.  

The man described by the above resume is the energetic and telegenic Luis Fortuño, currently in the middle of his first four-year term as Puerto Rico’s chief executive.  Although Fortuño is still largely unknown outside Puerto Rico, the phenomenal successes he already has achieved to bring the island’s previously sour economy back to life, is certain to raise his reputation and his image nationally – as well it should. 

Government leaders from President Obama and Speaker John Boehner on down would serve themselves — and the people they represent — well to study and learn from what Fortuño has done in just his first biennium in office.  He has not dallied.  He has not wrung his hands in pity.  He has not tried to “jump start” Puerto Rico’s economy with government “stimulus” monies.  He has not wasted time blaming his predecessors.  What he has done is to confront the fiscal mess he inherited in January 2009; put together a multi-faceted plan to turn the economy around; worked with the legislature; and, in his words, “stayed the course.”  

The “Puerto Rico miracle” is no mirage. 

How bad was the situation facing Fortuño in the fall of 2008 even before he took office?  Bad enough that Puerto Rico’s credit rating was near “junk bond” level; requiring Fortuño to travel to New York to meet with investment community leaders to urge them not to reduce the island’s rating even further.  Puerto Rico’s budget deficit stood at $3.3 billion — at nearly 44% of revenues, worse than any of the 50 states.  There was not even enough cash to meet his first payroll.  One big reason for this predicament was the sheer size of the Commonwealth’s bureaucracy – nearly 70% of the budget was eaten up by government employee salaries and benefits. 

Puerto Rico’s fiscal turnaround since January 2009 has been nothing short of remarkable. 

The huge budget deficit has been reduced significantly; as a percentage of revenues it has dropped from nearly 44% to less than 11%.  Government employment rolls have been reduced dramatically – by 17,000 and continuing to fall.  Defined benefit pension plans have been closed out; the number of government agencies has been slashed; and the overall budget has been chopped a full 20%. 

As a direct result of Fortuño’s work, Puerto Rico’s bond rating with Moody’s has leaped from Baa3 to A3; the highest it has been in 35 years. 

Fortuño is hardly resting on his laurels and basking in the limelight.  Recognizing that high taxes harm an economy rather than help it, he recently signed into law significant individual and corporate tax reductions.  Corporate rates have been cut 11% and the former, seven-tier tax structure simplified to three lowered rates.  Individual rates have been slashed an average of 25%, and will reach nearly a 50% reduction over the next several years. 

In a unique effort to help ensure the government continues to behave in a fiscally responsible manner, future tax cuts will depend on the government continuing to meet targeted goals, including cuts in operating expenses.  Every one of the island’s taxpayers will have a stake in making sure those goals are met. 

To help ensure Puerto Rico’s long-term fiscal viability, Fortuño has been instituting a strong public-private partnership for schools, airports, and other facilities; and implemented a successful housing initiative.  The formerly Byzantine government permitting process has been dramatically reformed.  And the beat goes on. 

How do you spell “success” in politics?  How might you spell “future” for the GOP?  Same answer to both questions — “Fortuño.”

 - by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

105 comments Add your comment

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Barr and Keiko Marutani, GOKU Media. GOKU Media said: Puerto Rico's miracle man http://bit.ly/eW02Te #miracle #life [...]

Rincon_Puerto_Rico

February 7th, 2011
6:59 am

You actually think he is a miracle child, he is just undoing what the last governors have done, they have thousands of government workers that do nothing, and sit back and get paid for it.. I dont know where you get your information from..BUT, everyone I speak with thinks hes an IDIOT, and does not know how to run a country..

Al Gore/Kilgore

February 7th, 2011
7:49 am

Y-y-yeah! Fortuno is an i-i-idiot! and B-b-bob Barr is a d-d-dope!

“Government leaders from President Obama and Speaker John Boehner on down would serve themselves — and the people they represent — well to study and learn from what Fortuño has done in just his first biennium in office. He has not dallied. He has not wrung his hands in pity. ”

Biennium? Dallied? And you don’t wring your hands in pity, but rather someone might wring their hands in worry, or fear. But “pity” doesn’t belong there. Unless you’re perpetuating moronium to go with the biennium and the delerium. I pity the fool who wrote that sentence. (yours, not mine. My sentences rule the AJC).

moron, sorry. but UR a moron when you write. You just don’t get it, along with that other hack who “writes” the copview blog.

And I think it’s a damn shame that your mothers didn’t raise either one of you 2B more prose-friendly girls.

bwa.

[...] Puerto Rico's miracle manAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The man described by the above resume is the energetic and telegenic Luis Fortuño, currently in the middle of his first four-year term as Puerto Rico's … [...]

Jesse

February 7th, 2011
7:59 am

I actually think he is a miracle child, and just undoing what the last governors have done is the right thing to do, getting rid of thousands of government workers that do nothing, they no longer sit back and get paid for it.. I don’t know where you get your information from..BUT, everyone I speak with thinks you can’t argue with RESULTS, and it seems like he knows how to run a country..

Mike

February 7th, 2011
8:02 am

What Fortuno has is a plan. Which is more than I could say for his predecessors. If he really wants to save the island cash – meet with former mayor of NYC Guiliani and discuss how he saved NYC by forcing people to get off of welfare back to work. PR’s welfare system is an embarrassment. Fortuno should get credit but he must target the failing welfare system. If you don’t want to work leave the island! God knows crime will fall dramatically! Also, Fortuno needs to change his stance on the Statehood issue! Puerto rico should never be allowed to become a state!! This is a whole different topic but what the hell.

Laura

February 7th, 2011
8:38 am

It seems your talking about a different country. Go to Puerto Rico for a week, not as a tourist, but as a local. Then your next article will be soooo…… different.

q1

February 7th, 2011
8:40 am

Would it not be better for the U.S. to sever ties with Puerto Rico and allow them to become a independent country?Being independent would allow them to raise their economy without aid from the U.S.and develop a nationalistic pride and sail their own ship, so to speak. Luis Fortuno, only 50 and smart, intelligent, ambitious, lawyer would turn the economy around in no time. As it is now, he describes his victory for Governor as “Obamaseque”, now there is a new term for you. He patterned his campaign after Obama’s. As the leader of a independent country, he could be his own person.

Bob

February 7th, 2011
8:51 am

Al Gore/Kilgore
“I pity the fool who wrote that sentence. (yours, not mine. My sentences rule the AJC).”

You are right …you are the Prince of fools with sentences that rule.

carlosgvv

February 7th, 2011
8:51 am

“How do you spell success in politics”?

In the US you spell “success” in politics by selling yourself to Big Business to get all the campaign cash you need to get elected and re-elected. I guess things are different in Puerto Rico.

Jose

February 7th, 2011
9:01 am

You fail to mention Luis Fortuno lied to get elected using the slogan “he would not layoff anyone but the ex governor”. He ultimately laid off 30,000 state workers. He stated crime was going to go down. If 110 murders in January alone is not enough for you for him to fail that promise I don’t know what will. You fail to mention how the wife of Fortuno has enriched herself by using her husband political contacts to pad her public notary practice to make what seems to be now millions. In addition your boy Fortuno promoted and approved a notarial law in order to get them compensated a minimun of $ 250 per mortgage cancelation. Is this a coincidence or another mere corrupt act. He has middled with the local supreme court judges number in order to force his corrupted agenda. Every day seems like another member of his party gets charged with some act of corruption. Neverheless the corrupted judicial systrem seems to be taken care of their own. Corruption is rampant among political parties, politicians and police officers. If you do not believe just read the local newspapers. The public housing projects which have become drug dealer camps in the island.

I also bring YOU to be a hypocrit. Let me never forget. You were the one that insisted and wanted a supermajority requirement amendment to be approved in order to conduct the plebiscite in order for Puerto Rico to become a statehood. A requirement never imposed to any state. You have never cared about PR or it’s people, so I do not know why you are writing this public relations piece of garbage. It must be that you, as I am, are so surprised that an educated but dumbed down person with visions of grandure like Fortuno would even be a member of the republican party. Knowing me how the republican party feels about PR and their people.

Puerto Rico need drastic changes. But Fortuno is just more of the same.

Public service was never about enriching yourself and your friends, but about making the system of government honest and have the best interest of the people first. Honesty has gone the wayside and now corruption is the rule rather than the exception.

Rincon_Puerto_Rico

February 7th, 2011
9:05 am

@Jesse..they still sit back and do nothing..YOU actually think that is results..to lead a country..firing all the dead weight. Its just undoing what the old governor did, the old governor hired ALL the extra hands to get the elected votes, Fortuno, just is getting rid of the extra jobs that apparently were workers that walked around offices collecting a pay check, at our expense.

@Mike..I definitely agree with the welfare thing down here.. its embarrassing, and most work off the books cause they are on some kind of welfare program of collecting moneys from the Govt’, So you see they dont want to work.. and if they do, you pay them under the table..Oh and the best thing is if they get hurt on a job…Dont worry they are covered since these people have free coverage by..Hum..yes the govt’ program, “www.familia.gobierno.pr/” .. YES..these are different topics, like statehood.., And yet another topic would be, start collecting CRIM taxes on the hundreds of thousands of houses here in PR who do not pay them..That alone might fix the budget out here.. Hey, If I were up in lets say NY, would I be able to get away with not paying taxes on my house and still live there..HELL NO..they would sell the house right in front of me to get paid..Come on..This is a @SS wing Government down here..run by a NOT ZEE, yes the spelling is wrong..on purpose..

Supreme Being

February 7th, 2011
9:23 am

Carlosgvv
“How do you spell success in politics”?
Genius…pure genius. Are you related to Al Einstein? Please cite an example to back up your platitudes.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 7th, 2011
9:46 am

Good morning all, I was going to suggest bringing this guy to Georgia, but maybe Paul Ryan ought to give him a consulting contract.

carlosgvv

February 7th, 2011
9:56 am

Supreme Being

“Please site an example”. How about the entire Republican Party and much of the Democratic Party. The test I took to get into Mensa is the same one you failed miserabely.

StJ

February 7th, 2011
10:11 am

“The test I took to get into Mensa is the same one you failed miserabely.”

Speaking of fail…

Supreme Being

February 7th, 2011
10:30 am

Carlosgvv has a lot of broad empty opinions but always fails to cite anything of substance to back it up when challenged. However, not bad for someone that made it all the way to the 5th grade.

Boricua Forever

February 7th, 2011
10:30 am

Mr. Barr,
You have no idea what you are talking about sir. There you go, another white dude writing about something he doesn’t know anything about. You are an idiot. I couldn’t even finished reading the whole thing because its a bunch of garbage. Stick writing of what you know. Fortuño is just another crook leading the island, which economy is in shambles, but the governor’s friends all have nice jobs.

TnGelding

February 7th, 2011
11:13 am

I’d like to know the rest of the story. Apparently the natives are rather restless.

kianaru

February 7th, 2011
11:23 am

If you love the guy so much you can take him to your state, heck make him your president. The truth is he is running a country, not a state, as if it was a business, using only cold hard math o solve the budget problems, he doesn’t take into account the human factor. A good government its not only numbers in a spread sheet. He’s typical republican and I think he should joint their party and go to the US because nobody wants him here!!

carlosgvv

February 7th, 2011
11:24 am

Supreme Being

Tom Delay, Mark Foley and David Ralston’s $17,000.00 Eupopean vacation. I can draw you more pictures if necessary.

kianaru

February 7th, 2011
11:31 am

When you fire 30,000 workers on 3.5 million people island you surely fix the budget but you inmediatle reaise the unemployment by almost 1% (0.8%). He is a miracle man allright but in what sense. Imagines that Obama fire 1% of the goverment employees, you surely balance the Government budget but you send thousands of families into an economic crisis.

killerj

February 7th, 2011
11:39 am

Nice Bob, less Government means more money in your pocket,the overhead is beyond outrageous people.Go Tea Party.

Supreme Being

February 7th, 2011
11:41 am

Excellent Carlosgvv…great job. I knew you could do it!!! Keep your crayons sharp Grasshopper.

kianaru

February 7th, 2011
11:44 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77xibyogluY&feature=player_embedded

click the link and see his work in action, police brutality against students!!

Rincon_Puerto_Rico

February 7th, 2011
1:19 pm

I think I kind of started this whole mess in here..OH wait..he did by opening his comment box, People if you live in Puerto Rico like I do, you know what we are talking about.. Hes an IDIOT.. only him and his group are safe and have jobs.. But wait, Im crossing my fingers that he will not be elected again, But is this a good thing or a bad thing..We already know how corrupt he is, AND if a new Governor comes into office we have to find out how corrupt he is..starting the whole shit all over.. Maybe we can get that guy from Egypt to run over here, I heard he disciplines well.

LA

February 7th, 2011
1:29 pm

“moron, sorry. but UR a moron when you write. You just don’t get it, along with that other hack who “writes” the copview blog.

And I think it’s a damn shame that your mothers didn’t raise either one of you 2B more prose-friendly girls.”

Please re-re-re-re-re-re-re-take remedial English. You’re giving the party of welfare a bad name.

LA

February 7th, 2011
1:30 pm

“Tom Delay, Mark Foley and David Ralston’s $17,000.00 Eupopean vacation. I can draw you more pictures if necessary.’

Well, if your drawing skills are as bad as your spelling skills, we’re all in for a treat! By the way, what is a EUPOPEAN vacation?

LA

February 7th, 2011
1:32 pm

“The test I took to get into Mensa is the same one you failed miserabely.”

Uh, that “Mensa” test you took on the back of a cereal box wasn’t real. Besides, I think MENSA wants people who can spell. It’s MISERABLY, not MISERABELY! LOLOLOL

LA

February 7th, 2011
1:34 pm

“Carlosgvv has a lot of broad empty opinions but always fails to cite anything of substance to back it up when challenged. However, not bad for someone that made it all the way to the 5th grade.”

As do most left wingers. I love it when the libs always want the right to provide information yet when the right wingers want left wingers to provide info, the left wingers throw out meaningless insults and misspell simple words.

Case in point: Cynthia Tucker. This morning she had three misspelled words yet somehow she is smarter than anyone else.

What do you have with four Puerto Ricans in Quicksand?

February 7th, 2011
1:41 pm

Quatro Cinco

Rincon_Puerto_Rico

February 7th, 2011
1:44 pm

I guess I kind of started this whole mess in here.. But I live here in Puerto Rico and he is an IDIOT, and any one that wants him can have him..I wouldnt even kiss him good-bye… I just hope that hes not elected again.. I dont know if this is a good thing or a bad thing…Cause we all know hes corrupt, and if there is a new governor elected we have to see how corrupt the new one is.. AND the mess will start all over again.. We need someone here for the people, not for HIS selected party..

Just a suggestion, maybe we can get that guy from EGYPT, I heard he doesnt take any crap…

Disgusted

February 7th, 2011
1:57 pm

If the guy who flew to Haiti to help Baby Doc says this guy is good, then Puerto Ricans had better run for the hills.

hryder

February 7th, 2011
1:58 pm

The number of negative responses indicates to me that many “sacred oxes”, are being gored and the truth lies somewhere in between the two extreme positions of views of the accomplishments of Govenor Fortuna.

Al Gore/Kilgore

February 7th, 2011
1:59 pm

You din’t start diddle, RIncon. The mess here has existed before you were sexting from the back seat of your daddy’s oldsmobile. The ditto heads who can read right or readily write, but who can only spew Rush hate have ruined this blog, and all the blogs on the Ajc.

But it’s nobody’s fault but jay bookman, who is a troll coddler who actually encourages his thugs to invade other blogs and namejack and be a general p-hole, which is something Jay admires more than any other trait on the blogs. (go figure).

I meant a-hole.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Albert DaLarge, STV-O . STV-O said: Puerto Rico’s http://t.co/x3mCNoR [...]

carlosgvv

February 7th, 2011
2:56 pm

LA

When around someone as information challenged as you, I get so upset I can’t even spell.

Ezequiel Gonzalez

February 7th, 2011
3:24 pm

This articcle is pure pro Fortuno propaganda. The actual deficit when he came to office was 1.5 billions because during the previous administration his PNP party controlled the legislative branch of the Puerto Rican Government and refuse to approved the measures the previous governor proposed to reduce the deficit.

Then when Fortuño came to power he rearranged the numbers to turn long term debt into short term debt, etc. etc. etc. to make the deficit to look even bigger in order to get an emergency bill to do as he pleased. Inmediately the legislature, controlled by his party aproved billions and billions in loans. Those billions in adition to the billions that the federal goverment sent to Puerto Rico as part of the emergency (ARRA funds) bills due to the situation in the US is what is financing the Fortuño administration.

Now he just aprove a Fiscal (income tax) bill that imposes a 4% tax on many us firms (formerly known as 936 companies) that he expects will generate a few more billion dollars. He claims that those firms can deduct it from their Federal Taxes. So this is more federal money under disguise. In short the Fortuño miracle is finance by federal and loan money at the rate of some ten billions dollars. And he is lowering local taxes, so if the economy don’t grow dramatically in the next few years in 5 to 6 years we will have a total colapse of the Puerto Rican economy.

For now Fortuño is safe. He has the loans and the federal money to complete his term. Who knows he may even run for reelection and win. There is enough money left to give away grants and health insurance and Christmas bonuses, and summer bonusses, etc .etc. etc. for the next year and some. So the effect of his policies will only be seen in 3 to 6 years. By then somebody else will have to deal with the disaster.

In reality, political comentators in Puerto Rico, the ones who really know what is going on down here, consider him the worst Governor in Puerto Rican history. A disaster maker like no one before….

markie mark

February 7th, 2011
3:31 pm

so, Al Gore, the only opinion you want to see on a blog is one that reflects your own? Maybe you need to re-examine the concept of blog and post….

LA

February 7th, 2011
3:36 pm

“When around someone as information challenged as you, I get so upset I can’t even spell.’

If getting angry inhibits your grammar then maybe you have bigger problems to deal with.

“Information challenged?” Ok, I’ll play. What information did I get wrong?

LA

February 7th, 2011
3:39 pm

“In the US you spell “success” in politics by selling yourself to Big Business to get all the campaign cash you need to get elected and re-elected. ”

?

Ezequiel Gonzalez

February 7th, 2011
3:48 pm

Calming down. Lets praise Fortuño a little. He looks like one of the characters in the Simpsons, the Millhouse dude. He looks and talks real nice. Looks young for his age, who knows he might be a good candidate for vice president. With his rico suave style, and iron hand in a velvet glove: he may capture a lot of latino votes for the Republican Party. After all he is white, latino white, well educated, successful, Reaganite. Now that the Tea Party is worshiping Reagan, Fortuño is and has always been faithfull the the Reagan worldview…

So, please, take him, please, Republican Party, make him an offer he cannot refuse. Convince him that he should not run for reelection in Puerto Rico. Convince him that he will be better off in Washington, running for federal office. Whatever you have to do, do it, and take him away. Offer him a few millions, and if he wants more, offer him a few more, but take him away. I don’t know about you, but we will certainly be glad if he relocates there. Even the “Furher” Thomas Rivera Schatz (the president of the Puerto Rican Senate and second in charge in his New Progressive Party) would be a welcome alternative for us….

Fortuño is great, Fortuño is a miracle maker, Fortuño would make a great vice president. Fortuño is the solution for the Republican Party, whatever you want to believe about him, believe it, but please take him away NOWWWWWW!!!!!

PLEASEEEEEEEE

TAKE HIM AWAYYYYY!

Soccerfan10

February 7th, 2011
3:51 pm

I’m grateful for the tremendous work Governor Fortuno has done. Under his guidance Puerto Rico has turned a corner and the future is as bright as it has ever been. Thank you Governor Fortuno!

LA

February 7th, 2011
3:56 pm

“Now that the Tea Party is worshiping Reagan”

Right now, Obama is “worshiping” Reagan.

juan14

February 7th, 2011
3:58 pm

Thank you Governor Fortuno. The Christmas bonus I received this year allowed me to buy presents for my wife and children. The smiles on their faces made me forget about how tough a year it has been.

vagabond

February 7th, 2011
4:08 pm

Are you at all aware of the ongoing student strike that has been going on in Puerto Rico since April of 2010? Are you aware of Fortuño’s efforts to privatize the public University of Puerto Rico? The largest University system in the Caribbean? What about closing off the legislature last summer to the public while he rammed legislation through that destroyed the fabric of the Puerto Rican constitution? What about the 17K workers who were summarily fired by Fortuño? Where do they turn in trying keep roof over their heads or food on their tables? What about the 15.7% unemployment rate on the island as of Dec. 2010? Fortuño’s a miracle man if you’re looking for a fascist whose only concern is the wealthy…

The main problem in Puerto Rico is that it’s a colony of the United States. Something like $35 billion of wealth is generated for the US from Puerto RIco of which a fraction of about $1 billion comes back… The US is a vampire sucking the blood of Puerto Rico… So while it talks about democracy around the world in Tunisia and Egypt it holds one of the oldest colonies in the world hostage to it’s imperial desires… Fortuño is a lackey, a bag man as you so correctly pointed out in his trip to New York to beg for bond ratings as he promised more blood for the vampires… Meanwhile on the streets of Puerto Rico the people are not hesitating in calling him a fascist of the first order…

PuertoRico1

February 7th, 2011
4:11 pm

Whoa. These attacks are completely unfounded. Fortuno has brought the financial stability that the island desperately needed. We can only hope that he is reelected.

JoseBM

February 7th, 2011
4:13 pm

This article is spot on. Fortuno has done more in his first two years than any Puerto Rican governor before him. His public-private partnerships are giving us much needed infrastructure without passing on mountains of debt to our kids. For the first time in years, our economy is growing and our government is becoming more efficient. I can only imagine what else he will accomplish in his next two years.

LA

February 7th, 2011
4:22 pm

“These attacks are completely unfounded. ”

That’s all left wingers have these days.

Eduardo J. Soto

February 7th, 2011
4:28 pm

I find it amusing that the few angry comments on this post are quick to say Barr is misinformed or that these facts are distorted, yet they fail to provide any evidence of it. Ironically, Barr seems to have a better grip on the facts than any in Gov. Fortuño’s opposition. Yes, the saturated government payroll has been slashed. Puerto Rico’s government faces an unreasonable fiscal strain. These cuts were necessary and welcome. It seems that some would rather go down with the ship than help keep it afloat.

You’re quick to dismiss the Governor’s achievements or write them off as parachutes in the form of federal assistance, completely ignoring the fact that Puerto Rico receives a fraction of what other states receive in crucial forms of aid. Moreover, as of today Puerto Rico is not nearly as dependent on federal funding as many other states with governors who claim to be fiscal conservatives.

On a side note, I won’t even bother with the terrible grammar of some of you bitter locals.

As a Puerto Rican of liberal ideology, I am not displeased with the Governor’s work but encouraged by the fact that resources are no longer being misused or misspent. I welcome the fact that he was explored all the different means of addressing the local recession regardless of political ideology. Yes, Fortuño is a conservative. No, he is not an ideologue. I was particularly impressed when he announced that state funds would be used to complement stimulus money and create temporary employment in the form of infrastructure investments.

The tax reform proposal Barr is so pleased with? Listen to the last SOTU and to the Governor’s announcement. These are very similar tax reform proposals. It’s common sense reform comprised of across-the-board rate cuts and the elimination of wasteful loopholes. Fortuño is not the ideologue his foam-mouthed local opposition thinks he is nor is he hyperpartisan. He embodies real fiscal conservatism and really deserves some more credit. Bob got it right: “Fortuño is hardly resting on his laurels and basking in the limelight.” It’s up to people of vision to acknowledge the impressive and unapologetic job he’s doing at restoring Puerto Rico’s credibility. It makes me very proud to think that we’re exporting common sense policy.

Best,