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    The Week in Public Finance: Puerto Rico Drama and a Corn-y Kind of Tax Credit

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  APRIL 15, 2016

    Beyond the Numbers in Puerto Rico

    The drama over whether Congress should allow financially strapped Puerto Rico to restructure its debts has kicked up a notch after the recent announcement that the territory’s main financier was putting a moratorium on paying its debt, among other things. This week, a group called Main Street Bondholders launched an ad campaign calling the proposed federal legislation a “bailout” that “removes any incentive for Puerto Rico to remain at the table with bondholders.” The group says it represents the interest of retiree investors.

    In response, House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a lengthy statement charging that “big-money interest groups on Wall Street” were dumping “a lot of money toward sabotaging this legislation in order to force a last-minute bailout upon Puerto Rico.” That would put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for creditors’ “bad loans,” Ryan said, which is what Congress is trying to avoid.

    Anytime someone mentions “big-money interest groups on Wall Street,” it can be tempting to assume they're referring to Republican mega-donors Charles and David Koch. In this case, that's correct: The Main Street Bondholders were formed by the 60 Plus Association, a conservative small-government group that spent millions in the 2012 and 2014 election cycles to help elect conservative or Tea Party candidates. Much of its funding came from conservative groups with ties to the Koch Brothers. The group has been quiet until recently and no information is readily available yet on its funding and expenses this election cycle.

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