Whitehouse: Trump’s feuds are a distraction from Puerto Rico aid
As originally appearing in Providence Journal

By: Patrick Anderson

Speaking at a New England Council breakfast in Providence on Monday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said President Donald Trump should focus more energy on helping hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and less on feuding with professional football players and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse on Monday said President Donald Trump should focus more energy on helping hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and less on feuding with professional football players and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Addressing Rhode Island business and nonprofit leaders at a New England Council breakfast, Whitehouse touted his plan to finance a cut in corporate tax rates with a new carbon tax and expressed guarded optimism over protecting immigrants who came to the country as children, among other topics.

Asked about growing tensions with North Korea, Whitehouse said the situation was getting “worse and worse” as Trump has exchanged insults with Kim.

″[Trump’s] comments to the United Nations did not help,” Whitehouse said, adding that a war of words played into Kim’s hands and is “making this kid a celebrity.”

Whitehouse likened the internal maneuvering in the Trump administration to the television show “Game of Thrones” and worried that as pressure from Special Council Robert Mueller’s investigation intensifies, Trump could become more erratic.

“Nothing is more game-changing than bombing Pyongyang,” Whitehouse said.

Ravaged by Hurricane Maria last week, Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, could be without power for more than a month and is facing potential food shortages, among other problems.

Whitehouse said Senate Democrats had not discussed policy specifics related to Puerto Rico yet, but he hoped to link financial assistance for the island to an aid package for hurricanes Harvey and Irma that hit the U.S. mainland.

Is the Trump administration doing enough?

“It is a little bit disconcerting, rather than talking about Puerto Rico, the president has been in fights with NFL players,” Whitehouse said about Trump’s weekend tweets that football team owners should “fire” any player who kneels in protest during the national anthem.

Responding to a question from New England Council President James Brett about the likelihood of Republicans reforming the tax code this year, Whitehouse said he expected it would “not be easy” because of concerns about raising the national debt.

On the latest Republican legislation to repeal Obamacare:

“I thought it was dead, and I hope that it is dead again,” Whitehouse said.

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