Paul Ryan’s Primary Challenger: ‘I Don’t Care About Puerto Rico’

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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House Speaker Paul Ryan’s primary opponent Paul Nehlen said the Puerto Rico debt crisis should not be a top priority for the representative of Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“I don’t care about Puerto Rico,” Nehlen told TheDCNF. “I care about people in this country dying from heroin.”

The businessman said the island, which faces a $70 billion debt burden and recently defaulted on a major loan payment, should be responsible for fixing its fiscal predicament, and slammed Ryan for supporting a bill Nehlen sees as a massive taxpayer bailout.

“The fact that [Ryan] has no time for our veterans but has all the time in the world for Puerto Rico?” Nehlen told TheDCNF. “Come on. He doesn’t care about Puerto Ricans. He could give a crap about Puerto Ricans. All he cares about are his hedge fund investors.”

Nehlen slammed the legislation, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), set to be voted on in the House Thursday, which was designed to put a federally appointed control board in place to oversea the island’s spending. Ryan has been a strong proponent for the bill, saying it is the best option to help the commonwealth restructure its debt without placing the burden on the American taxpayer.

“The solution is the voters voting out the people who are betraying them,” Nehlen said. “The solution is pulling out the betrayal of what’s going on. If we don’t make it more difficult, if you don’t learn from your lessons. That’s why the Grim Fairy Tales are so important. We all remember those grim fairy tales because they are absolutely the truth.”

Puerto Rico has been in a 10-year depression experts say was spawned by triple tax-exempts municipal bonds, which saw their tax break phased out by 2006. Nehlen said bond investors knew it was a risky investment and believes a “fire sale” is the best course of action.

The Obama administration has warned if action isn’t taken, the island will face a full-blown humanitarian crisis, with the potential for more school closures, hospitals being ill-equipped and understaffed and the inability to fund other necessary services.

“This is not a humanitarian crisis,” Nehlen said, arguing there are too many people capable of working using welfare programs on in the territory. “That’s a falsehood.”

“My mother is 70 years old and she’s working right now – she’s paying taxes,” he continued. “My mom should pay taxes for somebody in Puerto Rico who’s 50 and has decided, ‘Oh, the government said that I could go on vacation and be on retirement? That’s a humanitarian crisis? No. I reject that and the American people reject that.”

Congressional leadership is hoping to have the bill passed in both chambers before the territory’s $2 billion debt payment due July 1.

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