As Donald Trump continues to fail to respond to the post-hurricane crisis in Puerto Rico, it's worth remembering that Trump's heartlessness about Puerto Rico predates his presidency.
Donald Trump is doing next to nothing to help Puerto Rico recover from the complete devastation of Hurricane Maria. That’s perfectly normal for him, given that he’s actually inflicted economic harm on the island well before this.
Back in May, Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy, explaining it was so crushed by debt that it could no longer provide its citizens with required services, like paying for doctors and schools.
Part of the debt that Puerto Rico carries is thanks to Trump and, inevitably, a golf course.
In 2008, Trump licensed his name to a golf course in Puerto Rico. A few years later, that golf course borrowed a hefty $26.4 million in municipal bonds. A few years after that, in 2015, the golf course declared bankruptcy, leaving Puerto Rico holding the bag and the debt, because the golf course will never pay back those municipal bonds.
Frankly, it’s an astonishing way to conduct business: borrow money from the government, run up your debts (the golf course owed a staggering $78 million in debt when it filed for bankruptcy), and simply walk away.
Rather than deal with this in an honorable fashion, the Trump family immediately tried to say that they had nothing to do with the bankruptcy, insisting the golf course had licensed their name, nothing more.
Trump’s eagerness to license his name — and make money off it — knows no bounds, but he has no interest in picking up the pieces when things go south.
Trump’s focus is always on money and never on people. After picking a fight with the NFL for days, Trump finally got around to tweeting about Puerto Rico Monday night. When he did, he not only blamed Puerto Rico for its own destruction, but also highlighted his concern that Puerto Rico owes billions of dollars to Wall Street and that “must be dealt with.”
Only Trump would be cruel enough to be concerned with Wall Street rather than the people of Puerto Rico at a time like this, but it’s really no surprise. Trump’s conduct in the business world has always been a combination of heartlessness and greed, and now he’s got the biggest platform in the world in which to display those characteristics.
No one should be shocked by his response to the devastation in Puerto Rico. Ignoring it and hoping to profit off of it is exactly who Trump is and what he wants.