Why has everyone forgotten about The Actual Emergency?
Liberals are very excited about President Trump declaring an emergency to waste billions of dollars building an unnecessary wall. There's nothing wrong with opposing that, but why is no one talking about where the money is being stolen from?
Congress last year approved $20 billion in Community Development Block Grants for disaster relief to repair its electric grid and repair homes, but just a fraction of those funds have made its way to the island. Additionally, the Trump administration hints it may take some of those disaster relief funds to help pay for a border wall if Congress does not fully fund it. The government of Puerto Rico has said it will sue the federal government should that occur.
“I really hope that it doesn’t happen," Meléndez said of a lawsuit. "Congress already approved that money, those funds have to get to Puerto Rico.”
“I hope President Trump understands the needs we have on the island and that the comments that funds will be diverted from hurricane recovery to build a border wall are just that, comments, and not real," she said. "There’s a lot of support in Congress for us to get the funds. We have filled out all the necessary paperwork and turned in all the documents. We’ve done everything we been asked and we’re still waiting, 16 months later.”
There is a lot to unpack here, much more than meets the eye, and it looks like corruption and mismanagement.
Besides the probability of it being illegal to divert the funds, there is the question of why are they still waiting after 16 months. Part of the reason for the delay was the government shutdown.
Warren's letter had also referenced reports that President Donald Trump told advisers in September that he did not want any further disaster relief funding to go to Puerto Rico, after hearing an unsubstantiated claim that Puerto Rico was using disaster relief funds to pay off its debt.
1.4 million Puerto Ricans will lose some or all of their food assistance next month. Nearly half of the island. THAT is an emergency.
Even the long delayed recovery money is being spent in highly questionable ways.
"This money could be the answer for many communities that within an austerity crisis would not see any money coming in," said Ariadna Godreau-Aubert, executive director of Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, a nonprofit that has been urging the government to seek more public participation as it has developed its spending plans. "But what we've seen so far is that this is a plan for developers, and not for the people."
The island's government has rushed through public comment periods and not made a meaningful public outreach effort, Godreau-Aubert said. The process for proposing projects for funding is highly technical and can require large lines of credit often accessible to developers but not to groups working in local communities. And the government has only posted contract bidding documents in English on an island where just 20 percent of residents report speaking the language well.
That brings us to the austerity crisis, and the worst illegality. Interestingly, the corruption dates back to the Obama Administration.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held Friday that members of Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board were not appointed according to the U.S. Constitution’s appointments clause, which calls for the U.S. president to seek Senate advice and consent to confirm an official.
Judge Juan R. Torruella said in his opinion that fiscal board members must be selected in a manner consistent with the clause...Under Promesa, the members of the board were chosen by former President Obama from lists provided by congressional leaders.
Promesa runs everything in Puerto Rico, and it's not even legal.
So what is the result of an unconstitutional oversight board? This.
A small group of hedge funds are being rewarded for backing an $18 billion restructuring of Puerto Rico’s sales-tax debt that saddled other investors with losses.
...The deal slashed $6 billion in value from the bonds known as Cofinas, a painful outcome for individual investors who bought them at full price starting in 2007. But as some investors gave up hope of being repaid, hedge funds bought top-ranking Cofina bonds at beaten-down prices, betting they would fare better than others in a restructuring.
The wagers paid off this past week, when Judge Laura Taylor Swain approved the settlement from a courtroom in San Juan, a stark illustration of how sophisticated players can turn profits through financial engineering even when borrowers can’t or won’t pay everything they owe.
So an unconstitutional board with unlimited powers rewarded vulture funds at the cost of everyone else.
It sounds like if the Dems want to stop Trump from building the wall, they should look into Puerto Rico's debt crisis.