You may recall how a mere two months ago Donald Trump gave himself a “10 out of 10” score for his administration’s botched response to Puerto Rico, the embodiment of the cliche “a day late and a dollar short,” if there ever was one. Unfortunately, Governor Ricardo Rossello compounded this error. Thinking to appeal to Trump’s vanity and gain him as an ally, Rossello praised Trump for “responding immediately,” which had the net effect of giving Trump cover to do nothing — and nothing is basically what got done until this week when the tax bill was passed, crippling Puerto Rico with both a natural and man made disaster, all in a few months time. Washington Post:
In October, when Trump was tossing “beautiful, soft” rolls of paper towels at Puerto Ricans, he offered lavish promises of aid and said Wall Street lenders were “going to say goodbye” to Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt. But the debt was not written off, and disaster-relief aid has been inadequate and piecemeal. Now, Trump and congressional Republicans are hitting Puerto Rico with an additional, man-made catastrophe.
The GOP tax bill, which Trump celebrated this week, treats Puerto Rico as a foreign country, imposing a 12.5 percent tax on the income companies there receive from intellectual property — a big hit to its crucial pharmaceutical and medical-device sector. Rather than give Puerto Rico special tax treatment, which it urgently needs, Trump and his congressional allies gave employers a powerful reason to move jobs off the island.
Nearly 1 million low-income Puerto Ricans are in danger of losing health care early in the new year because the territory’s Medicaid program will soon be unable to pay providers. Federal law restricts Medicaid reimbursements for Puerto Rico to not quite 20 percent, about a quarter of what it would get if it were a state. Puerto Rico’s leaders have called for a few billion dollars to avert this latest crisis, but the request went unanswered as Congress rushed to complete the tax cuts.
Trump is the worst thing to ever happen to Puerto Rico. Botching hurricane relief was egregious and the Mayor of San Juan was perfectly correct in calling out, “If anyone can hear us, we’re dying.” Unfortunately, Puerto Rico’s problems may have only just begun. There are 1,065 dead (not the 17 Trump was boasting about so cheerily, oblivious to the fact that in natural disasters the death toll always rises from the initial count.) Additionally, most of the island is still operating without power or with sporadic power.