Weekly Address: President Obama – Addressing Puerto Rico’s Economic Crisis

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, President Obama discussed the crippling economic crisis harming 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico. Today, the island is spending over a third of its tax revenue on debt payments – and on July 1, Puerto Rico is facing another $2 billion in debt payments that it cannot make. The President said the only way for Puerto Rico to overcome this crisis is by restructuring its debt and finding a sustainable path toward growth and opportunity for its people. But this requires help from Congress in order to give Puerto Rico the tools it needs to restructure its debt. The President commended the House of Representatives, which overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill to address the crisis, and called on the Senate to quickly follow suit.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Addressing Puerto Rico’s Economic Crisis

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
Weekly Address, The White House, June 11, 2016

Hi, everybody. Today, I want to talk with you about the crisis in Puerto Rico – and why it matters to all of us.

Puerto Ricans are American citizens, just like folks in Maine or Oklahoma or New Mexico. And over the last decade, Puerto Rico has suffered through a deep and painful recession – but unlike the rest of the United States, it hasn’t recovered.

Today, the island continues to face a crippling economic crisis. Schools are closing. Power is being cut off at homes and hospitals. Teachers have to choose between turning on the lights or turning on the computers. Doctors can’t get medicine to treat newborns unless they pay in cash. And as the Zika virus threatens both the island and the mainland, workers dealing with mosquito control to help protect women and their unborn babies are at risk of being laid off.

Right now, Puerto Rico is spending about a third of its tax revenue on debt payments – far more than anywhere else in America. And on July 1, the island faces another $2 billion in debt payments that it cannot pay.

There is only one way for Puerto Rico to pull itself out of this crisis – and that’s by restructuring its debt and finding a sustainable fiscal path toward growth and opportunity for its people. But here’s the problem. Right now, Puerto Rico doesn’t have the tools it needs to restructure its debt – tools available elsewhere in America.

And only Congress can fix the problem, and put Puerto Rico on a path to recovery.

Thankfully, this week, the House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill to address the crisis, and I now urge the Senate to move quickly to follow suit. This bill won’t cost federal taxpayers a dime. It doesn’t include special-interest bailouts. And it gives Puerto Rico the ability to restructure its debt, safeguard essential services, and provide important protections to public pensions that more than 300,000 folks rely on to retire with dignity.

This bill also includes something else – a temporary system of oversight to help implement needed reforms and ensure transparency. I know that some folks in Puerto Rico are worried about this kind of oversight. But I’ve always insisted that any solution to this crisis has to respect the democratic rights of the people of Puerto Rico. And I am committed to making sure that Puerto Ricans are well-represented in this process, so that we can be sure we’re taking steps that are in the island’s best interests.

This bill is not a perfect solution – nobody’s saying it is. That’s what happens in divided government. But it’s the only option on the table to save Puerto Rico from spiraling out of control. And that’s exactly what would happen if Congress fails to do its job.

There’s no question this is a trying time for folks in Puerto Rico. They’ve seen too many jobs lost and too many neighbors leave in search of better opportunity elsewhere. It’s clear that it’s time for Puerto Rico to chart a new course and make a fresh start. This bill is just a first step.

We all have more work to do to make sure that the people of Puerto Rico receive the health care they deserve and the good jobs and economic opportunities they need to build a better future for their kids. And I want the people of Puerto Rico to know that my administration is committed to your success. Because you’re vital to America’s success.

That’s what this is all about. We don’t turn our backs on our fellow Americans. We don’t treat folks differently because of where they live. Instead, we treat each other as Americans. We come together, especially when it’s hard. That’s how we’ve always set ourselves on a course toward a brighter day.

Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.

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  1 comment for “Weekly Address: President Obama – Addressing Puerto Rico’s Economic Crisis

  1. JanF
    June 13, 2016 at 8:12 am

    President Obama’s speaks on the Orlando massacre:

    June 12, 2016

    Transcript:

    Remarks by the President on Mass Shooting in Orlando
    James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, 1:59 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT: Today, as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder — a horrific massacre — of dozens of innocent people. We pray for their families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Orlando, who have endured a terrible attack on their city. Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. And as Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.

    I just finished a meeting with FBI Director Comey and my homeland security and national security advisors. The FBI is on the scene and leading the investigation, in partnership with local law enforcement. I’ve directed that the full resources of the federal government be made available for this investigation.

    We are still learning all the facts. This is an open investigation. We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer. The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism. And I’ve directed that we must spare no effort to determine what — if any — inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups. What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred. Over the coming days, we’ll uncover why and how this happened, and we will go wherever the facts lead us.

    This morning I spoke with my good friend, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and I conveyed the condolences of the entire American people. This could have been any one of our communities. So I told Mayor Dyer that whatever help he and the people of Orlando need — they are going to get it. As a country, we will be there for the people of Orlando today, tomorrow and for all the days to come.

    We also express our profound gratitude to all the police and first responders who rushed into harm’s way. Their courage and professionalism saved lives, and kept the carnage from being even worse. It’s the kind of sacrifice that our law enforcement professionals make every single day for all of us, and we can never thank them enough.

    This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.

    So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.

    Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.

    In the coming hours and days, we’ll learn about the victims of this tragedy. Their names. Their faces. Who they were. The joy that they brought to families and to friends, and the difference that they made in this world. Say a prayer for them and say a prayer for their families — that God give them the strength to bear the unbearable. And that He give us all the strength to be there for them, and the strength and courage to change. We need to demonstrate that we are defined more — as a country — by the way they lived their lives than by the hate of the man who took them from us.

    As we go together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts — friends who helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives. In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give in to fear or turn against each other. Instead, we will stand united, as Americans, to protect our people, and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us.

    May God bless the Americans we lost this morning. May He comfort their families. May God continue to watch over this country that we love. Thank you.

    END 2:04 P.M. EDT

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