Long-term funding for Puerto Rico needs debate
The current hurricane season has been devastating to the Caribbean islands and the U.S. gulf states. Particularly hard-hit has been the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico — pummeled by the back-to-back punch of killer storms Irma and Maria. In their wake, the hurricanes have left a territory in need of complete rebuild.
The short term plan for Puerto Rico is clear with a focus on humanitarian aid: emergency medical care, fresh food, water, combating bacterial disease and restoring the infrastructure.
By contrast, the long-term rebuilding of the island is murky. Prior to storms, Puerto Rico was in dire straits. In May, the commonwealth filed for a record-setting bankruptcy as it was a whopping $12.5 billion in debt.
It's infrastructure — power grid, communications network and transportation system — was in horrible shape. Additionally, the country has been losing population with 500,000 Puerto Ricans leaving in the last several years. Economic activity has slowed markedly as corporations have left following the loss of their favorable tax treatment.
With thse factors in mind, our government must carefully consider the prudence of any long-term funding of Puerto Rico's rebuilding. The United States can ill-afford the luxury of throwing good money after bad.