In case you haven’t heard, Puerto Rico is in an incredible amount of economic trouble. Right now the island is sitting on around $72 billion worth of debt that it can’t pay, hoping that the United States Congress will do something to help them restructure this debt so they can get out from underneath it.
Look, I’m not about to even attempt to try to explain everything that led to this crisis. To call it an absolute mess would be a bit of an understatement. Though it’s a situation that can be fixed – they just need a little bit of help.
Things have gotten so bad that they’re literally closing schools and hospitals because the government simply cannot afford to keep them open.
While there are many issues at play, one of the biggest obstacles that seems to be getting in the way of Congress helping Puerto Rico are investors and hedge funds (aka “vulture funds”) that are actually making money from this economic disaster. So these folks have a vested interest in doing just about everything they can to discourage the government from passing any sort of legislation that would give Puerto Rico power to negotiate better with creditors to begin fixing this nightmare.
To summarize a big part of the problem, Puerto Rico can’t go into Chapter 9 bankruptcy due to a ridiculous law that no one even seems to know why it was passed in the first place.
Well, on Sunday night John Oliver hammered many of these issues for over twenty minutes, outraged that our own government seems hesitant to help out a nation that’s home to 3.5 million American citizens who are on the hook for billions of dollars. He even went after a “dark money” (aka unable to be traced back to the source) ad that’s blatantly lying and misrepresenting the crisis that Oliver believes is being funded by hedge fund managers and those who stand to profit from all of this chaos.
Though, as Oliver pointed out, it does seem like Congress might be getting serious about doing something before May 1 when Puerto Rico faces their next debt payment.
“The good news here is, Congress is now considering a bipartisan bill that would give Puerto Rico some breathing room to negotiate with creditors,” Oliver stated, “This could be a real help to Puerto Rico.”
But John Oliver wouldn’t be John Oliver without adding his own special “flare” to a segment such as this. So to seemingly help him bring some much-needed attention to all of this, he brought out the creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda (a child of Puerto Rican parents), to perform a rap about the island’s problems.
With these sorts of segments, you can always tell when Oliver takes what’s going on personal. His show only runs just shy of 30 minutes and he dedicated over 21 of those minutes to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis this week.
If you get a few minutes I would encourage everyone to watch it. What’s going on in Puerto Rico is extremely important and we all should be encouraging our lawmakers to act – and act now.
Watch the segment below via HBO: