It seems like half the big-name politicos in the country have an opinion on what needs to be done to rescue the indebted (but not technically bankrupt) Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and you can add New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to that list. Mayor de Blasio spoke up at a Big Apple city press conference on Tuesday, saying that Puerto Rico should have access to bankruptcy protection like all Americans in times of trouble.
Of note, similar media events were held on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Florida, as both cities have large Puerto Rican populations.
More on Puerto Rico debt situation
The key issue here is Puerto Rico desperately needs to restructure its $72 billion in debt as it simply can’t pay it all back on time under the current terms. As reported by ValueWalk, Puerto Rico had an initial meeting with its creditors a couple of weeks ago.
Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress introduced a bill last year that would permit the island to use federal bankruptcy laws to restructure the debt of its public agencies, but the legislation has not advanced due to lack of Republican support. Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Charles Schumer also co-authored a companion bill in the Senate a couple of months ago
Earlier this week, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla flew into Washington, D.C. to lobby legislators to let the commonwealth have the tools it needs to negotiate with its creditors.
Statements from NYC mayor and city councilwoman
The mayor gave Puerto Rico his unqualified support in its quest for federal bankruptcy protection. “If we don’t do it, Puerto Rico simply can’t get back on its feet,” de Blasio said at the Tuesday presser. “We’re obligated because we as Americans believe we’re supposed to help our fellow Americans in times of trouble.”
de Blasio also noted that more Puerto Ricans live in New York City than any place other than the commonwealth itself, and then gave a short, prepared speech in Spanish.
Puerto Rican New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called for the federal government to invest in the island and end all policies that put the commonwealth at a competitive disadvantage.
“Austerity is not the solution,” she said. “The solution to this crisis cannot be at the expense of the working class and the most vulnerable.”
Although, some will ask why U.S. taxpayers should bail out the commonwealth.