One consistent line coming from Donald Trump and his administration about Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane Maria has been that the United States will be there to help the island for as long as it needs. As Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech this week honoring Hispanic Heritage Month:

“And so we know the people of Puerto Rico will recover, and we will be with them every step of the way. And as the president said on his visit to the island earlier in the week, and I said as well, and I say to all of you gathered here today to the people of Puerto Rico: We are with you, we stand with you, and we will be with you every single day until Puerto Rico is restored bigger and better than ever before.”

That was Wednesday. Thursday morning, Trump apparently had himself a change of heart:

Trump was apparently referring to this promo for an upcoming episode of journalist Sharyl Attkisson's show “Full Measure.” Only Trump could use a 15-second promo for a TV show as a justification to abandon the 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico.

The qualifier “but” has loomed large in all the administration's talk in the three weeks since Maria hit Puerto Rico. The federal government will help with relief efforts, but the lazy locals need to do more for themselves. The federal government will fund the rebuilding but only so long as it doesn't become too expensive. The federal government is working with local authorities but ignoring this one mayor who is just so darn mouthy just because her people don't have electricity or potable water.

When Houston was wrecked by Hurricane Harvey in August, the city's history of poor urban planning exacerbated the damage. Yet there is no call from the White House to abandon Texas if it doesn't hurry up and get cracking on its recovery.

But when it comes to helping Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory to which the nation has long denied statehood, Trump will hold its prior financial problems against it in deciding just how much help to give it in rebuilding.

I wonder what the difference is between the two.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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