Last week, we reported that Senator Bernie Sanders was coming to the rescue of Puerto Rico with a huge aid package – complete with an unbelievable price-tag that’s become a staple of the Bernie brand.
The man proposed a $146 billion relief package (an amount equal to roughly 15 percent of the federal government’s annual discretionary budget). “The plan would give $51 billion for economic development, $27 billion for new infrastructure and $62 billion straight to the island’s government. The bill would also send aid to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sanders’s plan is much more generous than what even Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló requested. He asked the federal government for only $94 billion. As a result, the Sanders’ bill likely won’t get a floor vote in Congress.”
Well, great – though $94 billion is still enormous, even when compared to a $146 billion price-tag. Plus, how will a small island with a population of 3.4 million but $70 billion in outstanding debt and $50 billion in pension obligations fare in spending the funds? The island’s level of debt is only possible with a healthy level of corruption, and it’s worth keeping in mind when considering how to structure aid for the island.
According to Breitbart, “Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares asked federal taxpayers to pay $94 billion towards the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria, then reportedly spent $100 million on Christmas bonuses for the territory’s government employees. The governor’s aides argue that the bonuses had been part of the budget approved last summer and that they are a longstanding tradition allowed under the law, the Washington Times reports.”
More from the report:
Rossello requested the $94 billion federal aid package in November, estimating that $31 billion of the funds would go toward rebuilding homes and $18 billion would go toward repairing electric utilities.
The budget, however, had been approved before Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, leaving the U.S. territory begging for federal aid.
Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board, established by Congress in 2016 to bail the territory out of defaulting on its debt, called the bonuses “imprudent” and said the governor should rethink his allocation of government funds in light of the recent hurricanes.
“Puerto Rico has demonstrated time and time again that its government is incapable of responsibly handling its finances. This is yet another such instance,” Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), a member of the House committee with oversight over Puerto Rico, told the Washington Times in a statement after the bonuses had been revealed.
Crazy stuff – it’s like we have our own Greece to take care of.
Expect Democrats to be on the side of perpetually bailing out the island. There’s nothing more they’d like than for the island to receive statehood one day – and vote Democrat.
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