- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2011

@-Text.noindent:Having recently returned from visiting my wife’s family in Puerto Rico, I now fully understand the anger over all the federal funds and benefits given to the territory and its residents - without the stipulation that its residents pay any federal income tax.

@-Text.normal:Although the majority of Puerto Ricans are pro-statehood and pro-America, there is a large number of people in Puerto Rico who do not care to learn English and do not know the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance. While in Puerto Rico, I met numerous Puerto Ricans who were receiving multiple U.S. federal benefits - including housing aid, food subsidies and Medicare - but professed no identification with or support for the United States.

In 2009, the United States provided Puerto Rico more than $21 billion in aid and benefits, according to the Consolidated Federal Funds Report for that fiscal year. In 2010, the territory received more than $4 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, and, each year, the U.S. Treasury gives it $430 million in rum-rebate funds. Expert economists are predicting that total U.S. funds and benefits to Puerto Rico will increase significantly during the next 20 years and will likely close in on the $35 billion mark.

While Puerto Ricans pay federal payroll taxes and federal taxes on income generated outside Puerto Rico, these generate an insignificant amount when compared to the aid Puerto Ricans receive. They do not pay any federal income tax.

The residents of Washington, D.C., pay federal income tax, and when Alaska and Hawaii were still U.S. territories their residents, too, paid federal income tax. It’s time to put an immediate end to this federal welfare paradise in the Caribbean. Puerto Ricans need to share in our burden and equitably contribute to the U.S. budget.

@-Text.noindent:FRANCISCO A. RULLAN

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.