Ron Paul: We don't need FEMA
August 27th, 2011
03:59 PM ET
3 years ago

Ron Paul: We don't need FEMA

(CNN) - As Hurricane Irene barrels along the U.S. East Coast, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said the nation would be much better off without the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I live on the Gulf Coast. We put up with hurricanes all the time," the GOP presidential candidate told CNN after a New Hampshire campaign event Friday. "There's no magic about FEMA. More and more people are starting to recognize that."

Paul has long been a critic of the agency, which he calls a "great contributor to deficit financing."

With more than 7,600 employees, FEMA falls under the Department of Homeland Security and coordinates response efforts when disasters strike.

Citing the Galveston hurricane in 1900 that obliterated much of the Texas coast, the libertarian-leaning congressman said Americans were able to rebuild their cities and put up a seawall without the federal government's help.

"FEMA is not a good friend of most people in Texas," Paul said. "All they do is come in and tell you what to do and can't do. You can't get in your houses. And they hinder the local people, and they hinder volunteers from going in."

After Hurricane Ike demolished parts of the Texas coast in 2008, Paul voted against a bill that would funnel billions in aid to the area, which covers his congressional district.

FEMA has since pumped more than $3 billion in federal funds into the state.

The agency received wide criticism in 2005 for failing to respond in a timely, organized manner to the vast destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

– CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • FEMA • Ron Paul
soundoff (1,050 Responses)
  1. SCOTO

    Sheer lunacy. What successful model of government in the past is this man (or all extreme liberterians) basing their belief on?
    Another bizarre "only in America" phenomenom

    August 27, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  2. Don

    Ron Paul believes in minimal or no government, not less government. He has been consistent, and in my mind, completely at odds with what we really need, which is efficient government. To constantly harp on the size and "constitutionality" of government agencies misses the point that most of these agencies have done excellent work at best and mediocre work only when mismanaged and politicized.

    I believe this misconception that all or most government is bad held by many libertarians is a reaction to the continued competition offered by other nations, competition which is not being helped by libertarianism but by an acceptance of effective government.

    Can anyone here name a single industrial nation which has prospered and developed under libertarianism?

    August 27, 2011 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  3. NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    FEMA's 8,000 federal employees have been folded into Homeland Gestapo under Janet

    August 27, 2011 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  4. Norman Daley

    5 words about ppl talking about the ineffectiveness of FEMA –

    'Heck of a Job, Brownie...'

    when you have incompetent ppl running an agency (not to mention the government as a whole), you will have incompetent situation handling.

    August 27, 2011 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  5. Ron Paul is the worst

    I can't wait until the primaries are over so all of the Ron Paul people go away.

    August 27, 2011 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. Mike

    There may be a need for an agency like FEMA , but perhaps the agency was created in such a way that it can't serve it's purpose much in the same way most of our government currently functions?

    August 27, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  7. NickAnast

    There are a lot of people posting comments who have no clue about the Founding Fathers. They tried a system of government in which a weak federal government was secondary to the state governments. It was called the Articles of Cofederation, and it was a disaster. The Founding Fathers realized this, and thus created a strong federal government when they drafted the Constitution.

    As for FEMA, it was a model of effectiveness and efficiency during the Clinton administration. That all changed when W appointed the unqualified and incompetent Michael Brown as FEMA administrator. And it is changing again (for the better) during the Obama administration.

    August 27, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  8. steven harnack

    Hey Marcus, maybe people don't want a dose of your religion as a condition of getting some help. Maybe people with professional skills are more useful than a bunch of sanctimonious bible-thumpers.

    August 27, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  9. Tim

    He seems so wise on many topics, but this is exactly the kind of statement that makes him a non-starter.

    Obama 2012.

    August 27, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  10. NC

    I hope some of you that are so against FEMA never experience what some of our citizens have today. Please pray for all of those affected and God Bless all of you and our wonderful country.

    August 27, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  11. quentin

    Ron Paul is simply an anachist. Not conservative or liberal – just plain old anachy. If you love this country, it is your duty to oppose such opponents of civil society. The proper response to the Katrina disaster is to demand a stronger FEMA. That should be obvious to everyone.

    August 27, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. M. Taylor

    Concerning "Ralph's" comment: Is Obama against "blacks" too? I say that because He and FEMA sucked it up here in Alabama after the tornadoes. Give me a break and stop using the race card. That is old hat. Race has nothing to to with these disasters and the response from the government. I was in the military for 10 years and I can tell you that NO GOVERNMENT AGENCY cares about the citizens. Get over Bush already. Obama has spent double of what Bush did and he did that in 2 1/2 years. Take responsibility and admit that Obama is by far the worst president in the history of the US. Wake up and realize the empty suit in the WH is sinking this country. He needs to not be afforded another 4 years. If so, the US will be toast. Ron Paul is the only person running that says what he does and does what he says. The rest of them are lying to everyone.

    August 27, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. The Film Professor

    This is hilarious. Hurricane Irene is bashing the East Coast, and this joker thinks it's the right time to mention doing away with FEMA.
    This is as funny as the news about Romney's "Jobs Program" this week e.g. tearing down his 3000 square foot beach house to build a 12000 square foot house. I love how in touch all of these GOP whackos are

    August 27, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. normalice

    this is strange. In the 2004 election, Nader got a lot of coverage – in fact, he managed to draw enough votes from people who would have ordinarily voted democrat that the Republicans came out with a win. However, in 2008, the only time Nader got any press coverage is when he said something crazy (something like white guilt responsible for Obama's popularity). As a result, he hardly had any votes at all, and Obama won handily.

    Now, the first time Ron Paul has gotten any press coverage is when he says something crazy – trying to discredit FEMA in the middle of a hurricane! It would seem that someone is carefully controlling the coverage of "off-candidates" and this time around doesn't want Ron Paul to draw votes away from other republican candidates.

    It would be great if we had a news source to investigate this – the problem is that it is the news that needs investigating.

    August 27, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. Will

    The Federal govt is borrowing 44 cents for every dollar it spends. President Obama DEFINITELY isn't going to cut spending back. All the other GOP candidates would also RAISE Federal spending, albeit at a SLIGHTLY lower level than President Obama. Only Ron Paul has the guts to make the hard calls which will lead to spending CUTS and start us towards a balanced budget over time.

    August 27, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. dixiepassion

    I think Ron knows who will spin what he says by now. It would not have mattered if he responded to this article because the spin is on it. The media does not like Ron Paul they are always spinning what he says. I can always tell who listens to him and who listens to the media when discussing him. If you listen to him instead of the meia you might get a totally different opinion of him

    I am sorry I don't feel sorry for people living in beach front property who do not have the good sense to plan an prepare for something like hurricanes. If you live ocean front and do not have the money for insurance then you need to sell and move some where you can afford to maintain. I have a family member who lives at the beach and has lost his roof several times he got by without fema.

    It is all this dependance on government that is making the cost of everything go up. I was in a very bad flood and the red cross did an excellent job of helping folks. My mom was in a hurricane that blew off her roof she called her insurance company not the federal government.

    August 27, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  17. L. T. Fang

    If the fire department is late getting to a house on fire, what is Ron Paul's conclusion?
    "We don't need fire departments."
    Logic FAIL!

    August 27, 2011 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  18. JustMe

    I think he is looking too much at the FEMA of 2000-2008, which lets be honest sucked (who could forget the FEMA disaster during Katrina not that the state and local especially in Louisiana was any better prepared). During Bill Clinton's years, FEMA was very effective and this is the first test of Obama's FEMA and we'll see how it fares after Irene is done, but thus far I have been impressed (of course a lot has yet to happen and the true test will be on it reacts in the days, weeks and months after Irene is said and done).

    August 27, 2011 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  19. alice

    yeah ok people that want disaster relief to come from state/local governments - how do you propose to pay for it? you guys dont want to pay taxes of any kind for anything - so you guys will drown and die...wait, maybe you're on to something here - you guys are idiots to the extreme

    August 27, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  20. TrentO

    Im sooo glad we have FEMA because I am a sheep and can not help my self or others. Im sooo glad the Fed Gov. will be there always when I fall, even by there own hands. Geez America turned into a bunch of whining pussies... :(

    August 27, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  21. beachgal

    i think many people misunderstand Ron Paul. He's about Local/State government. So is FL wants an agency like FEMA, so be it. He's saying let the states decide. The federal government should stay out of it.

    August 27, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  22. Joshua from Baton Rouge, LA

    While it is agreed that FEMA is flawed as a whole and needs to be completely revamped, to say that we don't "need it" slaps every single citizen of the Gulf States in the face and to leave damage control strictuly up to the state municipalities is a diaster waiting to happen.

    August 27, 2011 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  23. Calvin

    Ron Paul is right.

    FEMA is a disaster compared to the naturally altruistic Americans. Don't underestimate grassroots altruism. Look at our fellow countrymen's response after Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, and the Japan earthquake. Also, if a private relief organization or insurance company does something wrong, they can be sued. If FEMA does something wrong, which is very often the case, there is no legal recourse for those hurt by their bureaucratic mess.

    Furthermore, why should the responsible taxpayer who decides not to live in a disaster-prone area be forced to pay for others' bad decision to live in a hurricane-prone area?

    August 27, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  24. Dee

    Ron Paul is starting to lose all his integrity with comments such as this. We are becoming a nation of the haves vs the have nots, and unfortunately it is the later which benifit from agencies such as FEMA, and would be left on their own. What would Ron Paul suggest for people to do if FEMA were not available?

    August 27, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  25. Justin

    well maybe Ron Paul & his racist son can afford to be without federal emergency help but alot of people cant. Thats why its called emergency help. Second FEMA responded poorly with katrina because Bush was busy blowing out birthday candles when he should have been doing his job.

    August 27, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
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