Bailing out Wall Street continues to dominate discussions and actions in Washington, D.C. and presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is not favoring any of it. On Monday (May 23) Sanders came out against the plan offered by the White House and Congress to restructure Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt. His reason: It would make “a terrible situation even worse.”
Sanders fired off a letter, released to the press, stating that he opposes the legislation because it “looks out for the needs of Wall Street vulture funds first and foremost.” Adding, “That is unacceptable.” He also criticized the fact that it would allow the governor of Puerto Rico to slash the minimum wage on the island to $4.25 an hour for up to five years.
To his Senate colleagues he wrote: “We must stop treating Puerto Rico like a colony and start treating the American citizens of Puerto Rico with the respect and dignity that they deserve.
“At a time when the people of Puerto Rico are suffering, the legislation introduced in the House would make a terrible situation even worse.”
The proposed legislation would create an oversight board that is supposed to help Puerto Rico control its finances. Sanders referred to the board as “undemocratic” and its members “unelected.”
Associated Press reported that “Puerto Rico, which has struggled to overcome a lengthy recession, has missed several payments to creditors and faces a $2 billion installment, the largest yet, on July 1. The island has been under a state of emergency and many businesses have closed, schools have lacked sufficient resources like electricity and some hospitals are limiting treatment.
“Sanders warned that the control board would have the power to cut the budget, slash pensions and take other measures. He notes that most of the control board would be chosen by Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“Puerto Rican officials have argued for a less powerful board that could not control the island’s finances.”