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President Trump Visits Puerto Rico & Promises to Wipe Out $73B Debt

by Countable | 10.4.17

What’s the story?

President Trump, along with First Lady Melania Trump, visited Puerto Rico on Tuesday, 13 days after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island. He was greeted by Governor Ricardo Rosselló and Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón and ended the day telling Fox News that the administration would take steps to wipe out Puerto Rico’s $73 billion debt.

Why does it matter?

The president met with local officials, including San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, and distributed some supplies. He and the First Lady did not tour the island, particularly the interior, where access and difficulty in distributing supplies continues to endanger lives.

In a press conference President Trump raised eyebrows, comparing the death toll in Puerto Rico to that in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, suggesting that the devastation in Puerto Rico was not a "real catastrophe".

He also quipped about Puerto Rico "throwing our budget out of whack".

He praised the governor for "not playing politics" and praising the federal relief efforts:

The president traveled to Guaynabo, a community close to San Juan, to distribute supplies. While throwing rolls of paper towels to the crowd he commented, "There’s a lot of love in this room."

Mayor Yulin Cruz, who the president attacked on Twitter after she lambasted the administration’s relief efforts, said in an interview that she is hopeful both the president and his staff left the island with a clearer picture of what Puerto Rico is really facing:

President Trump also left Wall Street reeling when he suggested to Fox News before leaving the island that the administration would wipe out Puerto Rico’s $73 billion debt:

"You know, they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street, and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that."

Watch the interview here.

The value of Puerto Rican bonds plummeted following President Trump’s comments. Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, was quick to state Wednesday morning that, "we are not going to bail them out." He also urged the public not to take the president "word for word."

What do you think?

What do you make of President Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico? Did his comments about the budget and Hurricane Katrina ring true or did they communicate a lack empathy? Do you think he should have come earlier or toured more of the island, or do you think that would have been a distraction from the relief efforts? What is the right behavior of a sitting president following a disaster of this scale, in your opinion? And what about forgiveness of Puerto Rico’s debt? Should the debt be forgiven? Should the president be more careful when he speaks?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: David Corn via Twitter)

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(48)
  • Patricia
    10/04/2017
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    Very much in favor of relieving Puerto Rico's debt. Especially because Trump stuck them for millions with his unfinished resort.my concern is his inconsistency and lack of reliability. Believe it when I see it 😩

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  • Dawn
    10/05/2017
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    Trump proved once again HE is the Bigliest disaster ever to hit our country! I watched a news segment where he was speaking to a Puerto Rican couple. After speaking about their troubles (with 0 empathy) he concluded, “Have a nice time,”. The throwing paper towels stunt was totally insensitive! His remark about forgiving it’s debt is another of his off-the-cuff remark which throws things into turmoil. Not touring the most affected parts of the country defeats his purpose. He is a moron!

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  • Mary
    10/05/2017
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    Trump can't wipe out Puerto Rico's debt but you can. Increase tax on weapons and guns and do something right with it. Pay off their debt! Also if you increase tax on guns, maybe you'll save lives too!

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  • Katyiswise
    10/04/2017
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    @Karan LOL you clearly didn’t read the article. Trump suggested that he would “wipe out” their debt while simultaneously admitting that he doesn’t even know where the debt lies, and then other officials came out and said they were NOT going to bail Puerto Rico out and that we should take the president seriously “word for word.” Republicans are so desperate to find some good in this monster they elected that they latch onto any seemingly good thing this guy says and ignore the fact that he doesn’t mean or even know what he’s saying. This man’s word is worth literally nothing.

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  • Julie
    10/04/2017
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    Trump blaming PR for "throwing our budget out of wack" is BEYOND insensitive. All he cares about is $$$. Every single day he says or does something that disgusts me even more.

    Like (3)
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  • David
    10/05/2017
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    The people of Puerto Rico need to go back to work and pay off their on debt. No more subsidizing deadbeats.

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  • Rhonda
    10/05/2017
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    Forgive Puertp Rico's debt and allow this island to vote on statehood.

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  • Jeanne
    10/06/2017
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    We can't wipe out any debt without money. We get money from taxes. Who can afford to pay more taxes? Big businesses and billionaires!

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  • Rebecca
    10/04/2017
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    At least some good can come from this disaster if PR can get it's debt forgiven. It's the least we can do after Trump went there as a publicity stunt, insulted the people and minimized their suffering.

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  • Marylynn
    10/05/2017
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    More lies from the Liar in Chief. Notice how his visit to PR was to the affluent sections of town. We didn't see him wading through water, nor did we see him talking to people that lost everything because of the hurricane. He told Puerto Rico that they should be thankful that they only lost 16 people where thousands died in Katrina. I wonder if anyone did the fact checking on his statements. He lies so much about everything. I still don't understand how anyone can support such a moron.

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  • Mike
    10/04/2017
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    He made a fool of himself and is a complete embarrassment.

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  • Deirdre
    10/04/2017
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    Puerto Rico is in the middle of a major catastrophe and Trump is throwing paper towels out like he is at a football game. Shameful. His whole take on this has been wrong. He should have sent supplies earlier. He should have gone there earlier instead of going to his golf course. If we can pinpoint bombs to go where the need to go we could have dropped supplies to Puerto Rico. So disgusted with Trunmp, his family and his administration. And everyone knows that paying off Puerto Rico’s debt was just for the cameras. He doesn’t mean anything he says except when he is helping out the rich and big corporations. 3 1/2 more years. I hope America can make it.

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  • GatewayJohn
    10/05/2017
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    Wall Street made conscious decisions that resulted in monetary losses. Puerto Rico suffered a natural disaster Who is more deserving of assistance?

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  • Heaven
    01/04/2018
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    I think that he should because PuertoRico was under a lot of stress because of what hit them

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  • August
    10/04/2017
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    Don’t get your hopes up Puerto Rico, he says one thing and does another.

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  • Michael777
    10/05/2017
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    Dotard Trump is our Liar-In-Chief, after all. He will wipe away Puerto Rico's debt the same way he tries (and fails) to wipe away all of the bad press and polls on him and his disastrous allies and antics.

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  • Kat
    10/04/2017
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    Trump should have gone to Puerto Rico well before 13 days after the devastation. Trump should not have played that “you guys are in debt” card. that’s mean and cruel and has really nothing to do with helping Americans repair and recover after such a natural disaster. He should have toured the middle of the island to see what was going on there rather than just a slam bam thank you ma’am quick trip into San Juan and a small town near San Juan, where he threw paper towels into the crowd, I guess as a gesture of distributing needed goods? Can you eat paper towels? Repair a roof with them?? That was really actually kind of ridiculous that he even went there and spent so little time ... like he couldn’t really be bothered. Tossing rolls of paper towels into the crowd...I don’t know what to think about that. Was he trying to be funny? Interesting that he says that they’re going to wipe out Puerto Rico’s debt, and Wall Street will have to suck it up. Wall Street sounds like they’re not quite thrilled about this “suck it up” idea. But we bailed out Wall Street after the 2008 crash. And is that money that bailed them out not all paid back yet? I think not. Maybe they work a trade...Wall Street 2008 bail out debt will be wiped out if Wall Street wipes out Puerto Rico ‘s debt. Beats me. I do not know how those kinds of deals work. But trump needs to get off his tricycle and behave like he gives a damn. LOLOL! she said “ like he gives a damn”... LOL!

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  • Claude
    10/04/2017
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    At least Trump is being consistent - just don’t pay your debt and get money from Russia.

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  • verymary
    10/05/2017
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    As the people of Puerto Rico lay prone and broken, the President of the United States, their President, spoke of poor leadership, of money owed to Wall Street and “the banks,” of superior death counts and “real” catastrophes, of “nasty,” uncomplimentary local politicians with the gall, the effrontery to request mercy for their fellow citizens and to want “everything to be done for them” – and then he complimented himself on another A-plus job of dealing with all those pesky national emergencies. In a church on the good side of San Juan, which is, thank goodness, on the good side of Puerto Rico, he lobbed rolls of paper towels at the appropriately grateful attendees and left an hour ahead of schedule, having seen all that there was to see and learned all that there was to learn during his ultra-satisfying PR event. Then it was back to Washington and a continuing celebration of the fabulous new tax-cut plan, which will deliver eighty percent of its benefits to the wealthiest one percent of Americans, most of whom are not Puerto Ricans. How delightfully same old same old! Then Nero and Marie Antoinette got married in an absolutely sumptuous ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, but unfortunately all the roses died because they had been touched by Donald J. Midas in an apparent attempt to have everything in the whole world match his toilet in Trump Tower. Then it was off to Las Vegas and another heartfelt salute to the NRA. Let’s all take a knee.

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  • Karl
    10/07/2017
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    Puerto Rico needs to become more fiscally responsible before the Fed thinks of forgiving any debt!

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