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.

Share
up
29 users have voted.

Comments

dirty money

The U.S. Treasury Department scolded the European Union for including U.S. territories on a list of dirty money hotspots around the world, telling American banks to ignore EU directives in an unusual technocratic spat that highlights continued friction between Washington and Brussels.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, on Wednesday released its revised “blacklist” of countries and territories around the world that it sees as deficient in countering money laundering and terrorism financing. The list, expanded in 2019 to 23 countries from 16, is part of a broader push in Brussels to crack down on dirty money in the wake of money laundering scandals that roiled some of Europe’s biggest banks and exposed serious shortcoming in the bloc’s financial regulations.

Outlined in a jargony 35-page report, the list pointedly includes several U.S. territories: American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They were conspicuously paired alongside some of the world’s most repressive regimes and fragile states, such as North Korea, Iran, and Syria. The report directs EU banks to apply “enhanced due diligence measures” when dealing with the countries and territories on the list.

“The action by the EU is unprecedented,” said Jennifer Fowler, an advisor at the Brunswick Group consulting firm and a former Treasury Department official.

The Treasury Department responded with an unusually strong statement that questioned the EU’s findings and urged U.S. banks to ignore the directive.
...
The EU’s report says U.S. territories were included because they have “strategic deficiencies” in their ability to regulate money laundering. “They are attractive for tax crimes and exposed to a higher threat of money laundering linked to tax crime,” the report notes. Additionally, all the U.S. territories listed but Puerto Rico are classified as “non-cooperative jurisdictions” for not doing enough to tackle tax fraud, evasion, and avoidance.

up
19 users have voted.

It's easier to grant large sums of money to orgs that have an audit system already in place. Also orgs are an interest group that can show up at congressional offices etc. Unfortunately it seems like a lot of money is spent like this, by both parties.

Imagine how helpful it would be if they just out and out gave money to every citizen with PR residence. The economy would have bounced back and rebuilding would have been immediate.

But about the wall, useless divisive partisan issue. The Center for Immigration Studies, hardly a liberal org, in an interview on the (shudder) NPR said a wall is not the most efficient way to curtail illegal immigration, they listed priorities as e-verify, and fixing loopholes in asylum seeking.

up
12 users have voted.

@ban nock
have been cheaper to just give el salvadoran peasants american bank accounts full of cash, than it was to fight the revolutionaries.

well, not quite. what i actually argued was that it would have been cheaper to buy up the land from the oligarchs and then divvy it up amongst the peasants.

in retrospect it, i guess it probably would have ended up a lot like Russia. lacking other sorts of financial restructuring and assistance, one expects that within a decade most of those erstwhile-peasants-now-yeoman-farmers would have lost their land through mechanisms of institutional indebtedness. that's pretty much how capitalism is built to function. instead of direct family holding of the land, the oligarchs would have ended up owning all the land through newly-made corporations.

on the other hand, many fewer people would have been dead.

up
11 users have voted.

Sigh

Deja's picture

As I read, I thought, "It's probably like Haiti and the Clinton scammers." Then, I read this:

"But what we've seen so far is that this is a plan for developers, and not for the people."

Bingo! I read somewhere that the Clinton Scam Foundation has gone to PR to "help". We know the money will never reach the ground, especially if that org is there; but, everyone there should keep a very close eye on the children as well. (No, that's not CT. C, but not T.)

up
11 users have voted.

the corruption, just like Hillary and Haiti (I think I got the country right).

up
6 users have voted.

dfarrah

up
4 users have voted.

Sigh

TheOtherMaven's picture

@UntimelyRippd

up
1 user has voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

I saw a breakdown of where it actually comes from on this BBC op ed. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47258779
I'm not sure if those numbers are from the headline writers at the BBC or Turley. Turley litigated against similar appropriations during the Obama years.

up
6 users have voted.

@ban nock I liked this part.

Haze of Democratic hypocrisy'

There is also a problem for the Democrats in getting a judge to listen to arguments through a thick haze of hypocrisy.

President Trump's assertions of executive authority remain well short of the extremes reached by Barack Obama who openly and repeatedly circumvented Congress.

In one State of the Union address, Mr Obama chastised both houses for refusing to give him changes in immigration laws and other changes. He then declared his intention to get the same results by unilateral executive action.

That shocking pledge was met with a roar of approval from the Democrats - including Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who celebrated the notion of their own institutional irrelevancy.

In 2011, I represented Democratic and Republican members who challenged the right of President Obama (and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) to launch the Libyan war without a declaration from Congress.

Mr Obama then proceeded (like Mr Trump) to use loose funds in the executive branch to fund the entire war without an appropriation.

Ms Pelosi and the Democratic leadership enthusiastically supported Obama's circumvention of Congress on both the lack of a declaration and the lack of an appropriation

up
9 users have voted.
TheOtherMaven's picture

as if that really makes a difference.

up
4 users have voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

to be taken from Puerto Rico.
Probably the easiest (& most legal) source is for the commander & chief to move some military spending around.
Spend it at home rather in Yemen=it's a twofer

up
3 users have voted.

chuck utzman

TULSI 2020