TrumpWatch, Day 266: Trump to Puerto Rico — We’re Leaving

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Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office. October 11, 2017 (Kevin Dietsch /AP)

Frustrated Trump tries to pin blame on Puerto Ricans for their difficulties


Developments on Day 266 of the Trump Administration:

Trump Says Federal Aid to Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico Will Not Last

Donald Trump sends the blunt message to Puerto Ricans, suffering from shortages and lack of power three weeks after Hurricane Maria, that the federal government will not guarantee assistance “forever”.

Trump also put the blame on continued difficulties on those in the island, insisting that its leadership was guilty of mismanagement that saddled Puerto Rico with debt and problems with infrastructure.

After his initial silence over the hurricane and its effects, Trump has tried to claim personal success in the recover effort. He visited the island last week, in a PR tour that included the throwing of towels to residents in a rescue shelter.

But only 17% of Puerto Ricans have been reconnected to power, 45% have no telecommunications, 36% have no running water and there are shortages of food and other essentials. So Trump showed his frustration and tried to avert responsibility yesterday

He cited the host of a show on the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group, “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.’ says Sharyl Attkisson”, and continued, “A total lack of accountability say the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend.”

Trump then issued his threat — according to CNN’s Jim Acosta, because of his ongoing anger at San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz over her calls for a more effective government response and resources.

Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló, who had supposedly denounced his own officials, called White House Chief of Staff John Kelly for an explanation. Kelly reassured him that no federal resources were being withdrawn and then made an unannounced visit to the White House briefing room to repeat the message for reporters: “Our country will stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done.”

Kelly said Trump was only tweeting that the federal government would complete its mission. “The whole point is to start to work yourself out of a job,” he said.

Kelly’s deputy Kirstjen Nielsen, added, “I also know that this rebuilding will take years, and I want to echo what the president has said many times: We will remain fully engaged in the long recovery effort ahead of us.”

Yulín Cruz, who has been the target of Trump’s invective over the past two weeks, said Friday that Trump was adding “insult to injury” and called on international organizations to intervene:

Tweet away your hate to mask your administration’s mishandling of this humanitarian crisis. While you are amusing yourself throwing paper towels at us, your compatriots and the world are sending love and help our way. Condemn us to a slow death of nondrinkable water, lack of food, lack of medicine while you keep others eager to help from reaching us.

Rosselló said:

I reiterate my plea that, as U.S. citizens, we are not asking for better treatment or less treatment. We are asking for equal treatment. We’re not asking for anything that another U.S. jurisdiction, having passed through the same situation, wouldn’t be asking at this juncture.

On Thursday afteroon, the Federal Emergency Management Agency tried to soften the blow of Trump’s words:


Trump to Further Gut ObamaCare by Scrapping Subsidies

Donald Trump will order the scrapping of subsidies to health insurance companies that help pay out-of-pocket costs of low-income people under ObamaCare, the White House has confirmed.

Failing repeatedly to get GOP legislation for healthcare, Trump is now carrying out his promise to sabotage the Affordable Care Act until its collapses. On Thursday, he ordered the easing of rules to allow the sales of health care plans with higher premiums, skimpier coverage, lack of provision of essential benefits, and fewer protections.

See TrumpWatch, Day 264: Trump — I Will Issue Order to Gut ObamaCare

Insurance markets could break up as insurers threaten to pull out without the subsidies, expected to total $9 billion in the coming year and nearly $100 billion in the coming decade.

“The government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments,” the White House said in a statement. “Congress needs to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people.”

Both Republican and Democratic legislators have urged the Administration to continue the payments.

The Democratic leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives, Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, said:

[Trump has] apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our health care system….

It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America. Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.

But Speaker Paul Ryan praised Trump: “Under our Constitution, the power of the purse belongs to Congress, not the executive branch.”


US to Leave UNESCO at End of 2018

The US formally notifies the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that it is leaving because of “continuing anti-Israel bias”, effective December 31, 2018.

Hours later, Israel followed the Trump Administration.

UNESCO, which oversees world heritage listings, has been criticized by the US and Israel for decisions such as the listing of Hebron, a city in occupied Palestine, as a Palestinian heritage site.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed her “profound regret”:

This is not just about World Heritage….[This is] a loss to both the organisation and the US.

At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack. This is a loss to the United Nations family. This is a loss for multilateralism.

The US State Department asserted, “This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at Unesco, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, and continuing anti-Israel bias at Unesco.”

It said Washington would seek to “remain engaged…as a non-member observer state in order to contribute US views, perspectives and expertise”.

The US also left during the Reagan Administration, rejoining during the years of President George W. Bush. However, in 2011, the Obama Administration cancelled the budget contribution in protest against the admission of Palestine as a full member.

The Trump Administration and Israel are concern that Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari could defeat France’s Audrey Azoulay and Egypt’s Moushira Khattab in the vote to succeed Bukova as Director General.

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