Joe Biden, the former Vice President of the United States who is a candidate in the 2020 presidential race, wrote an opinion piece in the Orlando Sentinel about President Trump and Puerto Rico.
“Our president should be able to meet a simple test,” Biden wrote, “understanding that Puerto Ricans are American citizens, and that they are entitled to — and deserve — the same support from the United States government as every citizen.”
Instead, he claims, Trump insulted and abandoned the territory in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s destruction.
Biden reminded readers of the President’s discredited claim that Puerto Rico had received $91 billion in aid, when the actually number was $11 billion, Trump’s poor judgement in throwing paper towels to hurricane survivors, and of his moves to block aid to Puerto Rico.
“More than two years after the storm, it’s unconscionable that so much of the hard work of recovery has been left undone,” says Biden. “We must rebuild the island, and rebuild trust — to make sure that Puerto Ricans have sound homes, schools, and hospitals; real opportunities; and a path to the middle class.”
Biden’s plan for Puerto Rico
Biden then described his plan for Puerto Rico if he is elected president next year. “As president, I will create a federal working group for Puerto Rico to make sure the island has all the federal resources and technical support it needs. To ensure that supporting Puerto Rico is an Administration-wide priority, the working group will consist of advisers designated by each federal agency and led by a point person who will report directly to me.”
“That also means boosting the minimum wage to $15 an hour, fighting for unions and workers’ rights, and preserving pensions and public services on the island,” Biden continued. “It means protecting Obamacare and building on it to deliver quality, affordable health care, adding a public option, and expanding access to Medicaid, including appropriate funding for Puerto Rico. It means tripling funding for Title I schools, whether on the mainland or on the island, to close the gap between rich and poor districts. And it means banning assault weapons and requiring background checks on all gun sales.”
Biden also wrote that he would encourage investment in Puerto Rico, including energy and infrastructure investments by the government and business investments by and for companies in the States and on the Island.
Biden has previously spoken in support of Puerto Rico, reminding listeners that Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States and calling for respectful and equitable treatment of the Island.
“Rebuilding also means confronting some hard truths about Washington’s legacy on the island,” Biden wrote. “We must own past shortcomings and embrace a future of strength for Puerto Rico, with fair and equitable ties to Washington.”
At this point, he brought up the all-important status question, saying, “I will engage Puerto Ricans — including representatives of every status option — in a process of self-determination, listening and developing federal legislation that outlines a fair path forward.”
The status options possible for Puerto Rico under the U.S. Constitution include the current territorial status, statehood, and independence. Biden had spoken out on the issue of status as Vice President, telling a young intern, “My word of advice to you, and all Puerto Ricans, is that you continue to fight hard until you reach your goal of equality, and we shall act.”
Biden concluded, “Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans throughout our nation make the United States strong,” calling for the defeat of Donal Trump, who is running to be reelected next year.