Hillary Clinton on Puerto Rico: heavy on hope, light on substance

by | Apr 7, 2016 | Elections, Headlines | Comments

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has issued an official statement regarding Puerto Rico on her website. In the 377 word document, Clinton acknowledges the challenges facing Puerto Rico, especially in regards to the current $72 billion debt crisis.

In the statement, Clinton acknowledges the challenges the territory faces while calling for the federal government to provide ”real support and tools so that Puerto Rico can do the hard work it will take to get on a path toward stability and prosperity.”

Clinton hones in on two points of interest in her statement: fixing the debt crisis and ensuring the future economic prosperity of Puerto Rico.

To aid in the first task, Clinton advocates granting Puerto Rico access to debt restructuring as per Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code (a privilege that states already have). Clinton says this is the “first step” in “find[ing] a way [for Puerto Rico] to pay back its debtors in an orderly fashion.”

In regards to longer-term goals, Clinton also reiterates her previous calls to allow Puerto Ricans equal access to federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid. This was a statement she first made in 2008, and reflects Clinton’s overall attitude regarding the “inconsistent — and incoherent — treatment of Puerto Rico in federal laws and programs.”

That, of course, is not to say that Clinton is not concerned with other issues regarding Puerto Rico. In Clinton’s words, “Puerto Rico needs a longer-term plan to address a declining population, eroding employment base, high utility rates and the impact of unequal federal investments. It will take tough decisions and real economic reforms.”

However, when it comes to specifics, this is as deep as Secretary Clinton goes on her website. Unlike her opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton does not have a comprehensive policy plan for Puerto Rico readily available. In fact, Clinton has yet to claim a position on some issues like statehood for Puerto Rico.

In the Univision debate between Sanders and Clinton, Clinton said she would help Puerto Rico within her first 100 days in office, stressing again her belief that the U.S. government must treat Puerto Rico the same way it treats states.

Clinton won 68% of Puerto Rico’s primary vote in 2008, and the territory will be holding its Democratic primary on June 5 this year. While Clinton may not have went as in depth on the issues Puerto Ricans face just yet, she may have to do so as the elections draws closer.