As a resident of a city severely affected by Hurricane Sandy, I loathe to politicize this natural disaster. However, if we're serious about making sure that disaster victims get the help that they need, then Mitt Romney must be called out for his comments on FEMA.
During the Republican Primary on June 13, 2011, Mitt Romney said the following:
KING: What else, Governor Romney? You've been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I've been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it's the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?
ROMNEY: 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 ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do? And those things we've got to stop doing, because we're borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we're taking in. We cannot...
KING: Including disaster relief, though?
ROMNEY: 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.
Republicans don't like that.
Republican ideology believes in expanding State's Rights and reducing regulations on big business. In the abstract, these seem like good ideas. States should be able to do whatever they want right? They shouldn't have to answer to the federal government. Big business should likewise be free to do whatever they want in order to earn profits right? They shouldn't have to constantly check with federal regulations and turn over a portion of their profits to the federal government. Sure, why not?
Which brings us back to Mitt Romney.
If Governor Romney had his way, FEMA would be disbanded and the job of providing disaster relief would be left up to the states. A State regularly relies on its neighboring states for help during its time of need during a disaster. So it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the problem with leaving disaster relief up to the states is that when you have multiple neighboring states all affected by the same natural disaster, none of them are able to help each other. The problem requires a federal solution.
Of course, as has been the case with nearly everything Romney said during the Republican Primary, now that America has been faced with an actual natural disaster which has called into question the wisdom of his previous rhetoric, it is safe for us to assume that Mr. Romney will now tell us flat out with a straight face that he never said anything like that.
1. Should the federal government have a role in disaster relief?
2. Should natural disaster relief be left up to the states?
3. Is Hurricane Sandy an instance where political ideology is trumped by reality?
4. Will the general public believe that Romney didn't mean what he said during the primary?
5. How will Hurricane Sandy affect the general election next week?