Federal disaster aid for Puerto Rico isn’t foreign aid — but Trump acts that way

Jessica Trisko Darden writes: Puerto Rico was back in the news Thursday — this time because of a series of tweets from President Trump that “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend….” and the warning that federal relief was not open-ended.

Disaster assistance, like humanitarian assistance and other forms of foreign aid, is political. In the modern era, media coverage often drives the government’s response to natural disasters.

And many Americans don’t support providing this type of emergency assistance to non-Americans. Surveys show again and again that many Americans believe the U.S. government spends too many taxpayer dollars helping foreigners, when it should be doing more at home. Even the most altruistic forms of foreign aid come under pressure: 45 percent of Americans support cutting humanitarian assistance.

Trump’s recent tweets on Puerto Rico echo much of the criticism often leveled against foreign disaster and humanitarian assistance. Despite the fact that Puerto Rico is not a foreign country (though many Americans think it is), the president seems insistent on treating it like one.

However, many of these criticisms are often based on a few common misperceptions about emergency assistance: [Continue reading…]

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