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Juan González: GOP to Puerto Rico–“Drop Dead”

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On Tuesday, top Republicans in the Senate rejected a move by congressional Democrats to extend bankruptcy protection laws to Puerto Rico. This means Puerto Rico is now just two weeks away from the biggest municipal bond default in U.S. history. We get analysis from Democracy Now! co-host Juan González.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Before we get to the Republican presidential debate, Juan, talk about what happened in Congress yesterday around Puerto Rico.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, well, I had a column in today’s Daily News about the deal that was reached on spending by the Congress. And it did not include an extension of bankruptcy protection laws to Puerto Rico. The island is suffering under a $72 billion deficit and is facing a $1 billion debt payment due in two weeks, on January 1st. And the governor of Puerto Rico, the White House, leaders in Congress were trying to get the Congress to agree to extend bankruptcy protection to allow an orderly restructuring of these debts. There were meetings all late Monday night and then into yesterday afternoon between three leading Republicans—Chuck Grassley, also Orrin Hatch and Lisa Murkowski—all heads of committees that have to deal with Puerto Rico in one way or another, and also Chuck Schumer and Maria Cantwell. But they couldn’t reach an agreement. It broke down around noon yesterday, and—because Grassley was insisting that he did not want to extend bankruptcy protections to Puerto Rico.

The result right now is that there’s going to be a default in two weeks of the government of Puerto Rico. It’s going to roil the entire municipal bond market of the United States. And as I said in my column, maybe the governor of Puerto Rico should now do the only thing that he—the only weapon that he’s got left, which is just say, “I’m not going to pay the debt,” and let Wall Street deal with the consequences starting January 1. But we’ll see what happens now in the next two weeks.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I encourage people to see your speech that we played on Thanksgiving—you can go to—on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. And of course we’ll continue to follow this.

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