President Donald Trump pulled a bar graph out of his pocket that represents disaster relief spending, during his Wednesday night rally in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Natural disaster relief appeared to be a hot topic, with Hurricane Michael hitting the panhandle six months ago. In that time, FEMA has directed more than $1.1 billion in federal funds toward response and recovery efforts, according to a FEMA press release from April.
“We are building a lot of things. We’re doing a lot of things that includes additional Hurricane Michael relief funding immediately. The money is coming immediately, no games, no gimmicks, no delays – we’re just doing it, we’re just doing it. By the way, FEMA, my people at FEMA, FEMA did a tremendous job here and elsewhere by the way,” Trump stated. “They had this, they had Texas, they had Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico got $91 billion. I understand they don’t like me. It’s the most money we’ve given to anybody.”
That’s Puerto Rico, they don’t like me, Trump says, pointing to the biggest bar on a graph of hurricane recovery spending – says that he has already spent $91 billion on the island’s recovery pic.twitter.com/VkMWSBb5vz
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) May 9, 2019
“We’ve never given $91 billion to a state. We gave it to Puerto Rico 91 billion,” he continued. “In fact, I brought a chart. Would you like to see a chart? Very haphazardly, I just happen to have it with me.”
“So there’s your chart,” Trump said, indicating to his prop. “Does everyone see it? So now… See, I didn’t want to spend on a big board cause that costs the government too much money. But you can all see that! That’s Puerto Rico [pointing at the chart]. They don’t like me. Texas, Florida, the biggest hurricanes we’ve ever seen. Texas, Florida. But this? And what the Democrats want to do, they want to give more and more and I say, ‘You know what? I have a great relationship with the people Puerto Rico but it hasn’t been fair.'”
The Washington Post’s fact checker gave “three Pinocchios” this week to Trump’s claim that Puerto Rico received $91 billion in aid, something he also touted this week on Twitter. His tweet also claimed that Texas received $39 billion in aid and Florida $12 billion. (RELATED: Taxpayers Are Paying Huge Sums To A System Of ‘Middlemen’ In Puerto Rico)
According to The Post, the $91 billion is actually a “guesstimate for potential liabilities over the next 20 years,” not the amount that has already been allocated to Puerto Rico.
“It’s simply false for the president to assert that Puerto Rico has received $91 billion. It has been allocated less than half of that, and the president is treating a guesstimate as an established fact. There may be valid reasons for the estimate, though OMB has not explained them. But there’s still no excuse for the president to cite the number as a solid figure,” they wrote.