The White House on Thursday ruled out forgiving Puerto Rico’s more than $70 billion in debt just days after President Trump said “we’re going to have to wipe that out” to help the island deal with widespread damage from Hurricane Maria.
“There’s a process for how to deal with Puerto Rico’s debt, and it will have to go through that process to have a lasting recovery and growth,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
“That is a process that was put in place and set up under [former President] Obama, and has a board of advisers that deals with that debt. It’ll go through that process as we move forward,” she continued.
In a Fox News on Tuesday, Trump appeared to signal an openness to wiping out Puerto Rico’s debts. His on-air remarks sent markets spinning with the possibility that creditors would not be paid back. Puerto Rico’s bonds reportedly plunged after his comments.
Trump said Puerto Rico's debt will have to be wiped out.
"We're going to have to wipe that out. You're going to say goodbye to that" pic.twitter.com/vn4V8gVaDQ
— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) October 4, 2017
“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out,” Trump said. “You can say goodbye to that.”
Budget head Mick Mulvaney told CNN on Wednesday that Trump should not be taken “word for word” and later told Bloomberg News “we are not going to pay off those debts.”