The Puerto Rico natural disaster has been commented on extensively in the Press and alternative media. For example:
Jeff Spross in The Week;
Over the long term, Puerto Rico should be made a U.S. state. But in the short term, the federal government needs to step in and spend the money necessary to rebuild the island. Obviously this would include a complete revamp of its grid and power sector. Staffing across the public sector needs to be rebuilt. Then there’s the repair of roads, buildings, food aid, medicine, repair of water systems, and more. It’s way too soon to know how much it would cost. But if rebuilding Houston, a city of over 5 million, will cost $200 billion after Hurricane Harvey, we can probably assume Puerto Rico will be in that neighborhood, or maybe a bit less. For context, $200 billion is less than 6 percent of one year of total federal spending.
Ed Morales writing in The Nation says:
Puerto Rico has been hit by the double whammy of irresponsible policy driven by a lust for profit. The reckless speculation in bonds ignored not only the fact that its economy was failing, but that the island itself is vulnerable to extreme weather events resulting from climate change, caused by the irrational addiction to fossil fuels. Maria is the third Category 4 storm to hit US territory in a month, a record in modern meteorological history.
Maria’s terrible blow reveals how Puerto Rico could be the mirror for a dystopian American future. As a recent report by the Action Center on Race and the Economy suggests, the hard-line austerity planned for Puerto Rico is a version of the strictures already imposed in Detroit’s bankruptcy, and will likely be used for troubled municipalities like Chicago and states like Illinois. On the other hand, Puerto Rico’s misery can be a wake-up call for the United States—which, ever since the New York City fiscal crisis of the 1970s, has gradually abandoned its commitment to the common good. Terminating PROMESA and investing billions in infrastructure, health, and education—humanely assuming responsibility for over a century of colonialism—will not only save tens of thousands of lives. It can also set a precedent and help reverse the slow descent of Trump’s America into political, economic, and social disaster.
Steve Grumbine in this recent Real Progressives video points out that PR and St. Croix Relief should not even be in question. They are part of the US. Their residents are American citizens. All of our residents and citizens are entitled to prompt and full disaster relief, as are the Americans living in Houston and in other areas hard hit by Hurricane Harvey.
Saying things like these certainly helps at this juncture, but Congress has to appropriate money for relief. It also has to help the, ravaged by hedge funds, Puerto Rican economy, which it has refused to help for years, while Puerto Rico was being slowly looted by neoliberal savages.
How will we get Congress to do it? It is not enough to tell Congress that we know that “taxes don’t fund spending,” or even that we know that Congress can order the Fed to place the estimated funds needed for relief and recovery directly into the Treasury Spending Account.
Yes, we know this; but will people believe it when we say it right now? And will this help Puerto Rico, St Croix, and Houston get all the relief and recovery spending they need?
Somebody needs to give Congress a push that they cannot ignore: a push that will make them a laughing stock if they do not come up with the needed appropriations.
That push can only be provided by Donald J. Trump, the current President of the United States. It can be given through a dramatic action by the President followed by a dramatic speech urging Congress to action. Here’s the dramatic action:
The President needs to order the Secretary of the Treasury to have the US Mint create a 1 oz proof platinum coin with a face value of $100 Trillion, take it up to the New York Fed and then deposit the coin in the Mint’s Public Enterprise Fund (PEF) account. The Fed will then take that coin into its vault forever and credit the PEF with the $100 Trillion face value.
And here’s what his speech needs to say to Congress:
Using the authority given the Secretary of the Treasury in the platinum coin provision of the legislation Congress passed in 1996, I have ordered the Secretary to have the US Mint create a platinum coin with a face value of $100 Trillion. I’ve done this because I can no longer sit by while Congress wrings its hands over a big lie: namely the claim that your Government is running out of money.
The US Government cannot run out of money, because the Founders of this nation, in their wisdom gave Congress the exclusive power to coin Federal money with no limits on that power.
Congress can if it wishes order the New York Fed to fill the Treasury Spending Account with all the reserves necessary to pass its appropriations. However, it doesn’t do this; preferring instead to have Treasury ask to fill its spending account with reserves according to certain procedures that have become customary, and that amount to providing the Fed with a message it can use to trigger its authority to create reserves in Treasury’s account.
Rather than trying to persuade Congress to just order the Fed to place funds in Treasury’s account, I have decided in view of the multiple crises recently caused by hurricanes Harvey and Maria, the likelihood of more natural disasters in the future, and the need for quick and decisive action when these crises occur, to just order the Secretary to use the authority given to him in the 1996 legislation to fill the Mint’s PEF account with enough reserves to cover the costs of recovery from natural disasters for many years to come.
This action makes Congress’s job easier when a natural disaster occurs, and incidentally also when we have a debt ceiling, or a budgetary crisis, or any other fiscal crisis besetting us because with the money necessary to handle the crisis in the public purse already, all Congress will have to worry about is what it should do about the crisis, it won’t have to worry about its debt ceiling, or about our running out of money or about the need for austerity, or about having the money necessary to repay the “national debt” because it thinks there’s no money in the Treasury.
So, without these worries all that will be left for Congress to do is to meet its continuing obligation to pass laws for the public purpose such as a law providing the appropriations I need to use the full power of the United States government to take care of own in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Houston, and any other cities, States,Territories, and other possessions of the United States where American citizens live and work.
So now, I’ll close by saying. Congress get to work to pass the legislation I need today without delay. It’s an emergency! Act like it! I know you can do it! Have it on my desk tomorrow. I will sign it and we will take care of our own everywhere.
The action and speech above plus confirmation by the media that $100 Trillion in reserves resides in the Mint’s account will remove all doubt in people’s minds that the US is not running out of money and can’t take care of natural disaster relief and recovery, debt ceiling crises, budgetary crises, austerity crises, sequester crises any other others on or off the horizon that require US money to help solve.
It will also erase all worries about “the national debt.” We will then move on to solve the all too real problems that we as a people face!