As President Trump Perpetuates Falsehoods About Disaster Aid, the Fed Prepares For Climate

Mexico Beach, Florida after Hurricane Michael destroyed it. Photo: Michael S. Williamson, The Washington Post

Last night the President went to Panama City, Florida ostensibly to deliver disaster aid to a part of the state that was nearly wiped off the map thanks to Hurricane Michael last fall.  He also toured Tyndall Air Force Base that was completely destroyed by the hurricane.  Both areas are struggling to rebuild while federal disaster relief funds remain tied up in Congress due to the President’s refusal to agree to additional disaster relief for Puerto Rico in the same disaster relief package.   Fox News reported that “President Trump announced Wednesday night his administration would allocate $448 million in federal aid to communities in Florida affected by last year’s Category 5 Hurricane Michael, all while blasting Democrats standing in the way of his policies, at a raucous ‘Make America Great Again’ rally in Panama City Beach.”  It is unclear where this additional funding will come from — although the President promised it according to Fox: “‘The money is coming immediately,’ the president added. ‘No games, no gimmicks, no delays, we’re just doing it.'”

At the political rally, Fox reported that the President also “repeated his claim that Puerto Rico had received $91 billion to help it recover from 2017’s Hurricane Maria, which he called ‘the most money we’ve ever given to anybody. We’ve never given $91 billion to a state. We gave Puerto Rico $91 billion … and they don’t like me.'”   The Fox reporter at the rally went on to say “The White House has said the $91 billion figure includes about $50 billion in expected future disaster disbursements that could span decades, along with $41 billion already approved. Actual aid to Puerto Rico has amounted to about $11 billion so far.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, according to The Hill, has “taken steps to ensure that banks and other financial institutions affected by a changing global climate will be protected from undue financial burden.”  The Wall Street Journal reported that Powell wrote in a letter to Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz, “Although addressing climate change is a responsibility that Congress has entrusted to other agencies, the Federal Reserve does use its authorities and tools to prepare financial institutions for severe weather events,” Powell wrote, according to the Journal.”

Why This Matters:  Even Fox News (or Trump TV as it is known in some circles) will only go so far to toe the line for the President.  Buried in their story about his Panama City Beach rally, was the kernel of truth — that the President has lied repeatedly to vastly inflate the amount of disaster relief funding that the government has provided to Puerto Rico to date and that the figure used by the White House is basically “all wet.”  At the same time, the President’s most un-favorite Chairman of the Federal Reserve is far from denying climate change — he is shoring up banks for the climate change financial disasters that lie ahead. It’s a good thing at the very least that the banks will be prepared because 2019 hurricane season is just around the corner.

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