Trump: Puerto Rico put bud­get ‘out of whack’

Pres­i­dent jokes, praises re­sponse to Hur­ri­cane Maria

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

USA TODAY WASHINGTON While Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump toured Puerto Rico on Tues­day to praise his team’s re­sponse to Hur­ri­cane Maria, some of his crit­ics heard other things — in­clud­ing a joke about the ex­pense of the ef­fort and praise for the fact that only 16 peo­ple have died since the deadly storm two weeks ago.

“Six­teen peo­ple cer­ti­fied — 16 peo­ple ver­sus in the thou­sands,” Trump said dur­ing a brief­ing with Puerto Ri­can of­fi­cials; he added that while “ev­ery death is a hor­ror,” the dev­as­ta­tion has not been “a real catas­tro­phe” on the same scale of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, which killed 1,800 peo­ple in New Or­leans in 2005.

Cit­ing the lo­gis­ti­cal and fi­nan­cial chal­lenges of the fed­eral dis­as­ter re­sponse on the is­land, Trump quipped: “Now I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our bud­get a lit­tle out of whack, but you’re throw­ing our bud­get a lit­tle out of whack be­cause we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that’s fine; we saved a lot of lives.”

Trump’s com­ments did not go over well with some U.S. law­mak­ers.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hit Trump for hav­ing “the gall to com­plain about Puerto Rico,” while he has pro­posed “tax cuts for bil­lion­aires.”

In ad­di­tion to the brief­ing, Trump toured a neigh­bor­hood where res­i­dents are re­build­ing dam­aged homes. “We’re go­ing to help you out,” he told mem­bers of one fam­ily.

At a church con­verted into a re­lief cen­ter, Trump handed out bags of rice and “shot” rolls of pa­per tow­els into the crowd like bas­ket­balls.

Trump also con­fronted one of his crit­ics, San Juan Mayor Car­men Yulin Cruz, who has clashed with Trump over the pace of re­lief ef­forts.

Dur­ing his time on the is­land, Trump shook hands with Cruz, but she did not re­act kindly to his com­ment about the whack in the bud­get. “It just goes to prove the lack of sen­si­bil­ity,” she told CNN. “It does not make you feel too good.”

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