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What They’re Saying as Rubio Reintroduces Legislation to Increase Wages, Expand Opportunity in Puerto Rico

Jan 5, 2017 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today reintroduced the Economic Mobility for Productive Livelihoods and Expanding Opportunity (EMPLEO) Act, which would help grow Puerto Rico’s economy by making it easier for employers to hire workers and giving every American on the island an immediate pay raise. The bill extends to Puerto Rico Rubio’s nationwide proposal to enact a federal wage enhancement.

After Rubio first introduced this legislation in December, it was cited in the final report of the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico as a solution to consider, and many commentators and experts are praising the bill’s potential to help Puerto Rico emerge from its economic and debt crisis:


  • Potential options for examination include … providing federal wage subsidies to employees and employers in Puerto Rico.” – Report by the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico (12/20/2016)


  • Rubio’s bill is “aimed at raising after-tax pay for low-wage workers in Puerto Rico, while reducing employer costs. He’d perform this seemingly impossible task by … increasing—and redesigning in important ways—a refundable tax credit. The plan could bring more Puerto Ricans into the above-ground economy. … [It’d be] a new way to disburse tax credits that could really help low-income workers.” – Elaine Maag, Tax Policy Center (12/16/2016)


  • Rubio’s bill is “a free-market oriented proposal …. [that] should lead to much needed entry-level job openings and make it more attractive for business, especially small business, to hire more employees. If successful, EMPLEO may lead to the emergence of business from the underground economy, a higher labor participation rate, and much needed revenue for the commonwealth coffers. … [T]his legislation will not reduce the amount received by minimum wage employees, it will only reduce the wage burden for employers. This will have a drastic positive impact on struggling small businesses and underskilled employees alike.” – Ojel Rodriguez, Fundación Libertad (12/30/2016)


  • “A proposal from Senator Marco Rubio could revive the island’s beleaguered labor market. … The proposal is a creative, compassionate, and market-based tool for addressing Puerto Rico’s challenges. … Rubio and his staff have done the important work of bringing forward a concrete proposal. It provides not just a powerful idea but also the right opportunity for deployment and the legislative details. Here’s hoping that it receives the attention and support it deserves.” – Oren Cass, Manhattan Institute (12/5/2016)


  • Rubio introduced an “idea to help Puerto Ricans earn their own success while experimenting with a new program that, if successful, could eventually help encourage work on the mainland as well. … [T]his proposal would address two major problems facing the Puerto Rican economy — a minimum wage that prevents employers from hiring low-skill workers, and strong disincentives to work — and would be an important first step in helping Puerto Ricans leave welfare for work.” – Robert Doar, American Enterprise Institute (12/28/2016)


  • “Senator Rubio’s bill is a creative way of improving the incentives for employers to hire in Puerto Rico, while simultaneously ensuring that employees do not forego the opportunity of earnings. … [T]he National Puerto Rican Chamber supports this bill as a step in the right direction towards much needed labor market reform and is encouraged by the potential benefit to our members and the island’s economy.” – Justin Vélez-Hagan, National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce


  • “Wage subsidies are an excellent policy for the working class. They don’t just reach the extremely laudable goal of making honest work pay a fair, living wage, they also reduce the cost of hiring to employers, making low-skill work more competitive in a globalized world. And by making work pay more, they also discourage the use of welfare, a big conservative goal.” – Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Ethics and Public Policy Center (12/9/2016)


  • “Rubio is proposing a plan that would expand opportunities to an island where too many are struggling to make ends meet. Proposals like this could help turn the island’s economy around by boosting the innovation and job creation to strengthen workers and families.” – Carrie Sheffield, Opportunity Lives (12/19/2016)


  • “Great step in the right direction!” – Henry Olsen, Ethics and Public Policy Center (12/8/2016)


  • “The proposal moves away from the traditional approach of continuing to perpetuate the welfare state and focuses on increasing employment in the private sector, which is what will allow Puerto Rico to overcome the current level of economic, and social stagnation. We welcome this proposal and fully support it.” – Gustavo Velez, Inteligencia Economica