One week after winning a Pulitzer Prize for his acclaimed hip-hop Broadway musical Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared on Last Week Tonight to raise awareness about Puerto Rico’s debilitating economic crisis with a visceral rap.
First, host John Oliver spent 19 minutes outlining the intricate – and mostly infuriating – tax and legislative quirks that allowed Puerto Rico to reach $70 billion public debt. The island now faces a poverty rate of 45 percent, with hospitals and schools shutting down at an alarming rate. “Right now, Puerto Rico is like the last Tower Records: Everything’s overpriced; everyone’s been laid off, and there’s still a weirdly large number of Ricky Martin CDs,” the host cracked.
“Look, there are certainly better voices than mine to speak on behalf of Puerto Rico. Luckily, there is someone with Puerto Rican parents and an amazing voice,” Oliver said, introducing Manuel-Miranda.
“A commonwealth with not a lot of wealth, a not-quite nation, $70 billion topic of conversation,” the Hamilton creator-star began, outlining the issues over brooding piano. “Hoping to God John Oliver’s comical dissertation resonates with the Congress that got us in this situation. Along with suicidal tax incentive declarations, ‘Yeah we’ll pay your bonds first, close the hospital, fuck the patients.’ This is an island, 100 miles across. A hurricane is coming and we’re running up a loss.”
“It’s nonpartisan,” he continued. “The hard part is in convincing Congress Puerto Rico matters so their heart is in the fight for relief. Not a bailout, just relief, a belief that you can pass legislation to ease our grief. Paul Ryan, I’ll come sing Hamilton at your house. I’ll do-si-do with Pelosi. I’ll wear my Hamilton blouse! Your citizens are suffering: stop the bleeding, stop the loss. Help Puerto Rico – it’s just 100 miles across.”
Watch ‘Hamilton’ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda freestyle with President Obama at the White House.