Aid to Puerto Rico must prompt reforms there
President Donald Trump has been accused of discriminating against Puerto Rico in terms of U.S. aid to help the island recover from devastating hurricanes.
Far from it. Trump appears to be discriminating against U.S. states with big disaster recovery bills.
Trump previously had told the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay 100 percent of some cleanup and emergency expenses for Puerto Rico, for six months. Now the government has agreed to cover 90 percent of many other costs, including repairs to infrastructure such as roads and the power grid.
When disasters hit the states, the federal government pays just 75 percent of such expenses.
So, the president is discriminating in favor of Puerto Rico. Given the island’s poverty, that is necessary.
What is not proper is to allow Puerto Rican officials to continue the massive waste and corruption that made their power grid and other public services before Hurricane Maria struck.
If we, their fellow Americans, are going to aid our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, federal aid should be conditioned on cleaning up the island territory’s own act.