Trump budget director pushes back on Trump comment: ‘no bailout for Puerto Rico’

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Puerto Rico already had major economic woes before being slammed by two devastating hurricanes, and their government was in negotiations with their creditors to restructure some of their $73 billion debt.

President Trump mentioned the matter on Tuesday, telling Geraldo Rivera of Fox News that federal officials would have to look at Puerto Rico’s debt structure. “We [are] going to have to wipe that out,” the president said.

“I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that,” Trump told Rivera.

However, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney clarified that statement on Wednesday. When CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Mulvaney if Trump’s statement should be taken seriously, Mulvaney responded, “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that.”

Mulvaney said, “We are not going to be offering a bailout for Puerto Rico or for its current bondholders.”

Mulvaney said he had visited with President Trump at length on the flight home from the Puerto Rico, and said that “the primary focus of the federal effort is to make sure the island is safe and that we’re rebuilding the island.”

“We are not going to deal, right now, with those fundamental difficulties that Puerto Rico had before the storm,” he added.

“Why did he say we’re going to get rid of the debt, then?” Cuomo asked Mulvaney.

“I think the president knows that in order for Puerto Rico long-term, to fix itself, it’s going to have to deal with that debt situation,” Mulvaney said.

“The country was poorly — excuse me, the territory was very poorly run for a very long time,” Mulvaney said, adding: “This was a very badly mismanaged island for a very long time. I don’t think I’m making any news by saying that.

“And I think what you saw the president talking about was his acknowledgment that Puerto Rico’s going to have to figure out a way to solve that debt problem in order to fix itself going forward.

“We can help it. And we will help it. We will help Puerto Rico rebuild from the storm. Puerto Rico’s going to have to figure out how to fix the errors that it’s made for the last generation on its own finances.”

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