As the East Coast braces for a massive storm, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are trying to cover up the fact that if elected they intend to cut funding for both FEMA and disaster relief. Here is something to think about while we watch Hurricane Sandy morph into a perfect storm, what if there was no federal disaster relief? What if states were left to fend for themselves?
Well if Romney and Ryan are elected on November 6th…we will sadly find out the answers to these questions. There will be no doubt that the federal government’s ability to respond to natural disasters would be significantly hindered under a Romney-Ryan administration.
At least three times, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have publicly demanded that the federal government only disburse disaster relief funding if Congress agreed to offsetting budget cuts elsewhere. This would hold desperately-needed disaster relief funding hostage unless Congress agreed to cuts elsewhere in the budget, an extraordinarily difficult prospect even in normal circumstances.
Last year, after a major tornado and flood struck the United States, Romney was asked in a debate on June 13, 2011 about whether the agency should be shuttered so that states can individually take over responsibility for disaster response. He was asked specifically about turning FEMA over to the states – here was his response:
Absolutely, 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. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?
The debate moderator John King asked Romney…
Including disaster relief, though?
In which Romney responded:
We cannot — 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.
So let me get this straight… it’s ok for Republicans to spend trillions to fund a war in Iraq that was based on a lie without budget cuts but it’s immoral to spend money on American citizens in a disaster without cuts?
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent adds:
There’s another nugget here worth highlighting, though. In that appearance, Romney also suggested it would be ‘even better’ to send any and all responsibilities of the federal government ‘to the private sector,’ disaster response included. So: Romney essentially favored privatizing disaster response.
Ryan’s 2012 budget took a similar approach to disaster funding. As The Hill noted in May 2012, Ryan’s budget called for any disaster relief funding to “be fully offset within the discretionary levels provided in this resolution.” In other words, Congress would have to agree on cuts elsewhere in the budget if it wanted to dole out funds after a disaster. The real world consequence of this type of policy decision will mean that your ability to survive or recover from a natural disaster will be based on where you live, the severity of the event, and whether or not your state decided to budget for disaster relief. It will be 50 different states doing it 50 different ways. This is the inevitable result of the Republican “starve the beast” plan; Romney and other Republicans promise to cut the size of government but don’t say what. Well – this is the kind of “government waste” that Republicans are talking about.
Governor Romney’s campaign was asked about this and here was their response:
“Gov. Romney wants to ensure states, who are the first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities, have the resources and assistance they need to cope with natural disasters.”
Romney has a history of saying he’s going to cut government. When you ask him what – he says “We’re going to work that out with Congress”. He never says what. When he actually slips up and says something like what he said in plain day on video when he was trying to win over conservatives, the Romney campaign just back tracks – shakes the etch-a-sketch and says we didn’t say we’re going to cut that. So – he wants everyone to think that everyone gets everything and no one has to pay for it. Believe me – someone is going to pay for it.