With the clean up efforts beginning in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it’s reassuring to know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has enough money to take care of business.
“Nearly $7.8 billion is available for storm response through FEMA’s disaster relief fund, congressional aides said Monday,” Politico reports. There’s even access to billions in additional funds should it become necessary.
But Mitt Romney has suggested that funding for FEMA might end up on the chopping block should he win the election. When asked directly by CNN’s John King about funding for FEMA in June 2011, Romney advocated for turning disaster relief over to the states. He said, according to the Christian Science Monitor:
“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better…
[W]e we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”
Now, a Romney spokesperson is reaffirming those comments about moving disaster relief to state jurisdiction, but, the CSM says, it’s unclear how exactly the relationship between FEMA and the states would change under Romney. Moreover, the budget that the Romney/Ryan ticket has in mind would make large cuts to FEMA.
The New York Times’ editorial page called for a “big government” to handle these sorts of situations, slamming Romney for trying to move disaster response procedures to the state-level given how “financially strapped” they are.
“The agency was put back in working order by President Obama, but ideology still blinds Republicans to its value. Many don’t like the idea of free aid for poor people, or they think people should pay for their bad decisions, which this week includes living on the East Coast,” the strongly-worded op-ed says, in a way that hints, once again, at Romney’s bad-mouthing of the 47 percent.
With this story rearing its head, the Romney campaign made sure to assert its support for the continued existence of FEMA yesterday.
With more detail about Sandy’s havoc being revealed in the light of day, it’s also revealing the need for a strong disaster response mechanism. During Hurricane Katrina, the need for an organized and well-funded disaster response became glaringly apparent. Even with all of the other reasons to detest the Bush administration, it was the situation in New Orleans that really proved to be the final straw for some, showing a level of disorganization and outright callousness for fellow citizens (and fellow human beings) that the country simply couldn’t ignore.
With that in mind, it makes sense that the Romney’s camp would be vague about their candidates feelings and intentions for the agency. It’s one more thing to consider as you enter the voting booth next week.