Trump Calls Himself ‘Best Thing That Ever Happened to Puerto Rico’ in Rant Over Disaster Relief

He reportedly accuses Democrats of only talking about the island's struggles to recover from hurricane damage in order to make him look bad.

President Trump accused the leaders of Puerto Rico of mismanaging relief funds in a series of tweets late Monday night and then again on Tuesday morning.

The president took shots at the island’s government, particularly San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, with whom he has feuded since the island was ravaged by hurricanes in 2017. He also complained that giving relief money to Puerto Rico takes it away from America’s farmers:

That was Monday night. The ranting continued on Tuesday morning as Trump, for the second time in less than a week, praised his own value to Puerto Rico:

The bill the president is referring to is a $13 billion aid package that failed to pass the Senate after Democrats determined it offered millions of dollars less for Puerto Rico than the island needs to continue its long recovery. The bill also would have provided aid to states hit by wildfires, flooding and other natural disasters over the last year.

A House-passed disaster relief bill also failed to pass the Senate on Monday. That bill, which the House voted on in January, included $703 million in Medicaid and food-stamp funding for Puerto Rico. But it did not include money to help out farmers in the Midwest affected by recent massive flooding, which occurred after the bill’s passage.

The money earmarked for Puerto Rico by the House has bothered Trump for days. He reportedly ranted against it at a lunch with Senate Republicans last week, telling the assembled senators that the island has already receieved “too much” aid money compared to states that also suffered damage during a wave of massive hurricanes in 2017. Later, he told reporters that he “has taken care of Puerto Rico better than any man ever” just before he flew off to Michigan for a campaign rally.

Trump is also lying that Puerto Rico has received $91 billion in aid. As The Washington Post explained last week, that number includes estimates of the “potential liabilities” that the federal government would need to commit “over the life of the disaster.” Those estimates currently stand at $50 billion, are subject to change year to year, and could be getting paid for the next 20 years. Trump simply added the number to the $41 billion that has been spent to come up with $91 billion.

Trump has long been sensitive to criticism of his administration’s management of relief efforts on Puerto Rico in the aftermath of two hurricanes hitting the island in 2017. An anonymous administration offiicial told The Daily Beast recently that the president often accuses Democrats of talking about the disaster just to make him look bad. He feels he has nothing to apologize for in his handling of the disaster, and therefore does not see a need to keep working on the ongoing crisis.

It is unclear if Trump is aware that the people of Puerto Rico are as much American citizens as the Midwest farmers he championed in his Tuesday tweetstorm, and therefore are just as much his responsibility.

 

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Politics

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.

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