Sanders pushes Marshall Plan, Renewables, for Puerto Rico as Trump tries to Lower own Taxes

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Trump went to Puerto Rico and told the hurricane victims there that they were inconvenient since the disaster that left them without potable water or electricity (nearly half still lack it) had put a crimp in the GOP budget.

It later emerged that the GOP budget is a large-scale embezzlement scheme to move $1.5 trillion out of middle class bank accounts and into the hands of billionaires, leaving the government too bankrupt to provide essential services.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and a handful of other colleagues have introduced a bill to extend $146 billion to Puerto Rico to properly rebuild and do debt forgiveness (PR has $70 bn in debt), calling it a “Marshall Plan” for the islands. The bill contains provisions for implementing renewable energy in the islands. The Marshall Plan was the US economic boost to Europe after WW II, aimed at lifting it out of the grinding poverty caused by four years of total war. It worked.

In contrast, Sander’s bill will likely never get reported out of committee to be considered in the GOP-controlled senate.

Sanders’s site says that the legislation is intended to ensure that Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands “not only recover, but are able to rebuild in a way that empowers them to thrive.” Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, Richard Blumenthal, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are co-sponsors.

The legislation involves forgiveness for a major chunk of Puerto Rico’s $70 bn in debt, which impedes its recovery.

Sanders said:

“It is unconscionable that in the wealthiest nation in the world we have allowed our fellow citizens to suffer for so long. The full resources of the United States must be brought to bear on this crisis, for as long as is necessary. But we cannot simply rebuild Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands the way they were. We must go forward to create a strong, sustainable economy and energy system in both territories and address inequities in federal law that have allowed the territories to fall behind in almost every measurable social and economic criteria.”

One of the bill’s major emphases is

Resilient and Renewable Energy: Instead of simply rebuilding an antiquated, centralized and inefficient system dependent on imported fossil fuels, the bill ensures the electric grids will be rebuilt to be more renewable and resilient, to provide less expensive electricity and create local jobs.

It also addresses health insurance and health care, as well as education and infrastructure.

Gillibrand said, “The people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands suffered one of the worst disasters our country has ever experienced, and Congress has done the minimum expected of us. Congress must rise to the occasion and implement this new Marshall Plan to help our fellow American citizens rebuild and recover. We must all pledge to stand with these families until the islands are rebuilt and fully back on their feet.”

There will also be a version of the bill worked up for the House of Representatives, but it is doubtful it will get to be voted on.

The renewables component of the bill is important, and is one area where activists are already trying to help, such as renewables energy consultant Peter Reese of Minnesota.

The Twin Cities Frontier reports that Reese said, “I think we get caught in an either-or mindset:‘You’re not going to be able to replace all of Puerto Rico’s grid with solar, so don’t try.’ Well, there’s places where repairing a traditional power plant makes sense. But where that’s been devastated … solar can do it cheaper and faster. If the hurricanes took your transmission lines and knocked the whole thing over, you’ve got to start from scratch anyway. You’ve got to bring in the poles and you’ve got to bring in the wires.”

Other activists are raising money to put solar installations into 100 towns in Puerto Rico.

Walter Meyer, a former Obama administration adviser on resiliency, said, according to WNYC, “The reason everyone is excited about solar in Puerto Rico right now is it’s the first time there has been a chance to reboot at the scale of a state. It’s at the scale of Connecticut . . . We’re talking two years from now, Puerto Rico can be 100 percent renewable with the amount of actors and agents that are coming into this space including all the battery manufacturers.”

So there are Federal government plans and there are local private and public plans. My money is on the local private and public plans.

Trump is only asking Congress for $29 bn for disaster relief and rebuilding in all of Texas, Florida and New Jersey.

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Related video:

WWLTV: “Help for Puerto Rico with solar puff lights”

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6 Responses

  1. There is no excuse for solar, wind and wave power not to be accelerating at a pace. China has built more solar power plants in the last six weeks that America has in the last year. Obviously, just about anything can be achieved ” where there’s a will there’s a way” America has plenty of hot sunny deserts and plenty of windy areas plus a huge coast line for wave power. The way is there but the will is lacking.

  2. When Trump rolled out his tax plan and uttered these words…”My accountant tells me this plan will be very bad for me but I want to do the right thing” I immediately knew this tax plan was a con to line his own pocket.

    With Trump the CC rule applies. He has no conscience and no compassion. This is the simply guide to understanding everything that is Trump.

  3. Had the majority of Puerto Ricans been fair-skinned U.S. English speaking citizens aid would have been substantial and immediate like Houston.

    Here is Trump and his Republican clansmen clearly demonstrating the depths of bigotry and h8 they have dragged our once great country into.

  4. It is shameful to me as an American, then when a portion of the US is devastated, we have a President who simply does not see, or care to understand, his duty to as the elected President of the United States. It is clear that if it does not profit him or his friends, he has no interest in supporting a devastated and a needy part of the US. Think, if only a fraction were to be removed to assist Puerto Rico from what we as Americans provide to support his luxury palace in Florida! Shame on you Mr. non- President Trump! You are simply in it for the money, with no concerns for the needs of our citizens! You are NOT a fit President.

  5. It isn’t just Trump who doesn’t care about Puerto Rico but the rest of the Republicans. Trump and his re tweets of British racism demonstrates very clearly why these American citizens aren’t getting the help they need.

    Perhaps its time for Puerto Rico to join some other country,.

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