Vice President Biden’s Chief Economist, Benjamin Harris, Friday raised the possibility of financial assistance from the U.S. Treasury for Puerto Rico if the territory’s fiscal problems are not resolved.
Treasury Department officials have previously indicated that they do not foresee Federal financial assistance.
Government of Puerto Rico officials have lobbied for the Federal government for Federal assistance and also sought increased Federal funding in health care and other programs in which Puerto Rico is funded less well than the States. Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has also advocated Federal financial assistance for Puerto Rico.
Harris raised the possibility of Federal help in a conversation with Puerto Rico House of Representatives Speaker Jaime Perello. The House Speaker quoted him as saying that a Puerto Rican default on the insular government’s obligations would be a problem for the United States as well as for the islands. “For the first time I heard a federal official acknowledge if Puerto Rico enters a default, is not only a problem of Puerto Rico, but also of U.S.,” Perello said, as first reported in El Nuevo Dia.
Perello has reportedly sent additional information to Harris and expects a follow-up meeting.