Trump Says Puerto Rico Has Thrown Federal Budget “Out of Whack” Following Hurricane Devastation

Trump Says Puerto Rico Has Thrown Federal Budget “Out of Whack”
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Trump Causes an Uproar as He Pays a Visit to the Island Following Hurricane Maria

President Donald Trump visited Puerto Rico for the first time since the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Maria, commenting on the federal budget and U.S. fighter jets at the briefing.

“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack—because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico and that’s fine, we’ve saved a lot of lives,” Trump said on Tuesday.

“So you’re incurring extraordinary expenses without revenue,” he said in an interview in San Juan.

The briefing presented a test for the president who has been under criticism for his response to the Puerto Rico disaster. While the majority of the island’s residents remain without power, food, and water, Trump’s comments on the budget were seen by some as out of place.

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The president also came under fire when he chose to tweet more about the NFL kneeling controversy surrounding the national anthem instead of tweeting about the devastated Puerto Rico. The president also acknowledged the kneeling protests before mentioning the dire situation of the American island.

The point about the budget was made in a lighter tone during the press briefing, which touched on a variety of subjects like the “F-35” fighter plane and the federal government’s response to Maria versus Hurricane Katrina.

“When you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this,” Trump said. “And what is your death count right now?”

The president appeared to be boasting about the relatively low deaths following Maria compared to Katrina.

Trump was also under the microscope due to his public spat with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. Despite the two of them trading barbs in the media, they shook hands when he arrived and appeared amicable.

Cruz released a statement Tuesday that said she had accepted the White House’s invitation to attend the briefing on a National Guard base in Puerto Rico. She added that she would emphasize that the situation was about “saving lives, not about politics; this is also about giving the people of Puerto Rico the respect we deserve, and recognizing the moral imperative to do both.”

Puerto Rico finds itself in dire straits. The island was already bankrupt before the storm hit, with $74.0-billion in debt. Gerardo Portela Franco, executive director of the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority, said on Tuesday that it may cost as much as $60.0-billion to begin rebuilding. Tax revenue will also be slowed by the damage to infrastructure and telecommunications, adding further strain.

The power grid, which has been down for weeks and deprived over half of the territory’s residents of power, will cost as much as $5.0-billion to repair.

In another surprising move, Oxfam has said that it will be looking to aid in the Puerto Rico relief effort. The organization rarely provides help in developed nations and outlined its reasoning for this specific response in the statement below:

“Oxfam has monitored the response in Puerto Rico closely, and we are outraged at the slow and inadequate response the US Government has mounted,” said Oxfam America’s president Abby Maxman. “Oxfam rarely responds to humanitarian emergencies in the US and other wealthy countries, but as the situation in Puerto Rico worsens and the federal government’s response continues to falter, we have decided to step in.”

Between the tweets, the president’s messaging, and the scale of the disaster, many are wondering how Puerto Rico and the U.S., in general, will recover effectively, especially while the president seems consumed with settling petty squabbles and Twitter feuds.

 

Sources

Trump Says Puerto Rico Has Thrown the Budget ‘Out of Whack’,” Bloomberg, October 3, 2017.

Despite desperate shortages, US fails to mount robust response in Puerto Rico,” Oxfam, October 2, 2017.

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Categories: News, Political Discord

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