Trump and Aid to Puerto Rico

A reminder that over 3 million citizens have no effective influence over the federal government.

Earlier this week, Trump tweeted the following:

In regards to the numbers cited, the NYT provides the correct numbers:

In fact, FEMA and other agencies have so far distributed $11.2 billion in aid to Puerto Rico, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Some $41 billion in aid has been allocated, while $91 billion is the budget office’s estimate of how much the island could receive over the next two decades.

It is worth noting that the government of Puerto Rico estimates the cost of Hurricane Maria at $139 billion.

One of grossest, and most telling, elements of the above rant by Trump is “The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA….”  as this suggests that Puerto Rico is not part of the United States.

Philip Bump at WaPo had a point-by-point refutation of these tweets:  Nearly everything Trump just said about Puerto Rico is wrong.

As Susan Hennessy tweeted in response:

She is quite correct.  There are over 3 million residents in Puerto Rico and they have precious little influence over the national government of the United States.  They have voice (and under-represented one*) but not vote, in the House of Representatives, they have nothing in the Senate, and no influence over the election of the president. (If we throw in the other territories, there are over 4 million such citizens without any electoral influences over the national government).  This is just yet another example of significant democratic deficiencies in our constitutional order (21 states have populations smaller than PR).

Trump has no incentive to treat these citizens with respect, nor to really care about policy outcomes–they really might as well be a foreign country. There are no members of congress to put pressure on the White House, and no votes to win.  It is also hard not to notice that the citizens of Puerto Rico are Hispanic and speak Spanish.


*PR has one Resident Commissioner, who can serve on committees and introduce legislation.  However, given its population size it should have around 5 seats.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    To make up for the Senate bias towards places where people think Sean Hannity is an intellectual, we should admit Puerto Rico as two states, Puerto and Rico. 😀

    10
  2. Teve says:

    It is worth noting that the government of Puerto Rico estimates the cost of Hurricane Maria at $139 million.

    Billion.

  3. @Teve: An important distinction–thanks.

  4. Kathy says:

    The focus on states keeps creative solutions off the table. For instance, Puerto Rico and all other territories could be given seats in the House and Senate, and electoral votes, as representing citizens of the country, even if they’re not states. For that matter, so could DC (though it does have electoral votes).

    But they’re not states, so they don’t count. Besides, they’d all vote Democratic and laugh at Trump.

  5. Gustopher says:

    Trump and Aid to Puerto Rico
    A reminder that over 3 million citizens have no effective influence over the federal government.

    For a moment, I thought you were referring to Trump’s popular vote loss.