Ron Paul: We don't need FEMA
August 27th, 2011
03:59 PM ET
12 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. comment

    He's like the Simpson's Grandpa running for President.

    August 28, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. National Guard Fighting Wars Rather than Helping States

    Ron Paul is right on this. Some of the responses to this post reflect the thoughtlessness of some of the citizens of this country. Rather than simply calling Ron Paul an "idiot" or "weird", how about examining the situation logically and rationally for a minute.

    First let's address the issue of rebuilding... In the FEMA model, someone who builds a house in a floodplain or right on a hurricane prone coastline who has their house obliterated in a disaster gets a bailout by FEMA and essentially a free pass on the taxpayer dime to rebuild in the SAME VULNERABLE SPOT! This would not happen in a non-FEMA, real-life insurance situation where the actuaries would make the risk too high to rebuild in that spot again. SO, that's FEMA's first problem.

    Secondly, FEMA foments a culture of dependence upon the Federal Government by the States that is needless and unnecessary. If our National Guard weren't off fighting several friggin' WARS where they shouldn't be, they would be available to handle these natural disasters within the State. Furthermore, Paul is right about FEMA discouraging volunteer work, which is often far more efficient and spontaneous than centrally managed disaster relief efforts, which cannot always respond to facts on the ground without running decisions through some high-up, far away committee or planner. Bureaucracy will ALWAYS lose in efficiency to spontaneous, reactive volunteers on the ground, who often have more interest in seeing things done the right way than a bureaucrat, who is only looking at a spreadsheet and a map instead of the actual situation.


    August 28, 2011 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. flo

    And his followers still think this man has all his marbles?

    August 28, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  4. Mat

    When people are complaining against "big brother" government, they forget its lack of control over banks and other financial institutions that has created this huge recession and pain. The executives sold an impossible dream reaped billions in profit and millions in bonus. It collapsed like a house of cards. I dont know why tea party and right wing republicans still insist of people regulating themselves and less government.

    August 28, 2011 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  5. Steven Seagal

    Those criticizing Ron Paul are clueless. He's advocating for private solutions to the problems of disaster instead of relying on the government.

    If you build your house in a (probably scenic) area where hurricanes are frequent, especially if it is a below-the-sea-level bowl (i.e. New Orleans), it's not the responsibility of every other American to compensate you when things predictably go awry. That's what insurance is for. His point is that many citizens have become much too reliant on the federal government to come in and correct their lack of personal responsibility. This problem is corroding our country, and goes against what our founding fathers created as our foundation.

    Funny how the only articles about Ron Paul on the mainstream media sites use FUD to try and scare people away from voting for him. I hope people are smart enough to see through all this.

    P.S. Ron Paul owns beachfront property and doesn't take government money for repairs on it from storm damage.

    August 28, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Sarah

    So let me see if I can understand Ron Paul's argument.

    Because the Gulf Coast, which gets hit with hurricanes each year and is thus moderately prepared, has hurricanes, then we shouldn't have disaster relief for areas that normally do not have hurricanes and are thus not prepared.

    This argument is like saying that we should not offer disaster relief to people killed or hurt or ruined in Indiana or Kansas if they were to get hit by a 8.0 earthquake. Or Colorado or Montana if a 2-mile wide sink hole appears. Likely? Not really - but it could happen.

    How dare the Republicans use DISASTER RELIEF as an arguing point for cutting in other places? (One Republican suggested that no aid be offered unless cuts were made elsewhere.) Fine. You win, Republicans. Let's NOT offer aid. Wait and see how the east coast votes in the next election. (Of course, we all know that if no aid was offered, it would all be Obama's fault, not the Republicans who suggested it.)

    August 28, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  7. Dump the Departments

    We lived years with out FEMA look at all the tailors given out that were trashed at Katrina and they still have a mess a total waste tax dollars. Dump DOE, DOJ, DHS, TSA, EPA

    August 28, 2011 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  8. Jeff in Brooklyn_NY

    It's funny to me how many people know so much about FEMA all of a sudden and the best way to respond to disasters, etc. Some people won't even consider the idea that MAYBE IT COULD be best to have states and regions be responsible for having a plan and finances in place to respond to disasters and not get a false sense of security by thinking FEMA will be able to deal with it. They failed incredibly during Katrina, remember? And yes, we should help out our fellow Americans with donations (Americans DO respond in this way quite often) and/or with some federal dollars. But that doesn't mean having FEMA take over operations. No matter what you think about Ron Paul, most people agree that he is a sincere and honest person. As a doctor he didn't take medicare or medicade because he doesn't believe in it, but he didn't turn people away - he worked out an affordable rate for them. He delivered babies for a living and was a flight surgeon for God sakes. He cares about people. He just sincerely believes that people could be helped better with a less bureaucratic, centralized agency. Why not be even be open to that conversation and that possibility? People who refuse to actually talk about this and just repeat rhetoric are usually insecure in their beliefs.

    August 28, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  9. Mr. Door

    Who's Ron Paul?

    August 28, 2011 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  10. Brian

    The real tragedy here is that people still take this guy seriously and even buy into this tripe. The naivety required to believe that government is the root of all of our problems and has never done anything right makes me wonder how these people even function in society. FEMA is far from flawless, but Ron Paul's alternative is far worse. Our state and local governments cannot possibly assume thier responsibilities when they already struggle to do thier own job. And although people hate to admit it, organizations and private charities such as the Red Cross and local church groups are notoriously inept, they make the government look like the model of efficiency.

    Someone asked earlier "How did we rebuild before FEMA?" That's an easy question to answer: for many American families, they never did.

    August 28, 2011 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  11. Keith

    Hard to tell from this short story if he is saying that FEMA is ineffective and the role of disaster relief would be better suited for state governments or if government shouldn't be in the business of disaster relief. Didn't see any viable, realistic options proposed so I have to conclude that he simply doesn't want to be bothered. I guess it's every man/woman/child for him/herself. I wonder if he would be consistent and consider prohibiting anyone from buying property in a flood/earthquake/tornado/hurricane/disaster area unless they can prove that they are financially capable of purchasing the requisite insurance to eliminate any outside aid. Maybe even make it illegal to redevelop the areas of New Orleans below sea level? Nah, that would violate personal property rights.

    August 28, 2011 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  12. diggit

    I find it sad that this article is clearly meant to make him look bad. Nice pic too.

    Nice try media. I will be voting for Ron Paul.

    Nobody will be seeing this so far down anyway.

    August 28, 2011 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  13. Jaybird

    He is right, Fema is just another expensive federal program that is full of red tape and inefficiency, hardly capable of dealing with disasters at state levels, Just ditch it and roll the money into state emergency funds. These people spouting off and disrespecting a good call based on logic are really missing the fact they they apparently are ignorant of simple logic. Ronny is getting my vote for the simple fact that often those of superior intellect are misunderstood by the ignorant. I wish I could say the same thing for Michele and Rick. They need all the benefit of the doubt they can get because they are both way to short to even be in the race. Obama has shown that talk is cheap especially in politics and that he couldn't reform silly putty. I guess it is time to give the conservative leaning libertarian his time in the house to see if he can effect the changes that this country so utterly needs. You may disagree,but that is your right, but before you do know this. I would through my IQ against anyone.

    August 28, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  14. Chris

    FEMA was the best Run agency for YEARs , seeing it's height during the Clinton years. GW's dismantling and re- heirachy of FEMA under homeland security, just before Katrina is why the reponse was poor, they were a bottom-up run agency being told to work like a top-down agency. It was inefficient at best, devastating at worst. They are finally relearning what to do, and getting smarter about the way they do things for sure. Their are alternatives to FEMA (national guard, red cross, military) , but I Don't think we'd be better off getting rid of them they just need to be run with the flexibility it used to have

    August 28, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  15. Keith

    Get it together, Paul. There are some things about FEMA that could be improved, but fundamentally its an insurance program. It distributes the risk of any single disaster across the entire country. Now granted, something needs to be done when people insist upon living in repeatedly high risk areas like flood plains, etc, and fail to either move or build appropriately. But in general, FEMA functions as an insurance company that distributes to risk of any single disaster across the entire country.

    August 28, 2011 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  16. sector7

    I think we all agree there needs to be a support system for those who are victims of natural disasters. Ron Paul believes this, too. All he is saying is that when we give our money to the government to "help" us, they mismanage it to our detriment. RESTORE AMERICA NOW. Ron Paul 2012.

    August 28, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  17. DJ

    I've noticed a lot of hate going Dr. Pauls way and I feel it unwarranted. The man wants to tax business' and you less so business' will hire more and drop prices to encourage us to shop and you'd have more money in the bank to do as you pleased. He wants us to be trully free and to do this you have to break the chains of the government and let them focus on REAL criminals and protecting us from other nations that mean us harm.

    August 29, 2011 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  18. Bill744

    Disasters are, by definition, rare – storms like Irene don't often affect the entire eastern seaboard. It makes sense to have a coordinated effort – that includes state agencies that understand their local situation. Can you imagine poorer states dealing with these disasters on their own? His comment is just loony. He is not presidential material.

    August 29, 2011 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  19. Danny

    This is why Ron Paul will never get past Congress. He may be saner and more honest than most of the GOP candidates, but he's far too radical.

    August 29, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  20. Spitfire

    Now that’s imbecilic. What does ron paul propose the States do when overwhelmed by Major Earthquakes, Hurricanes and other Disasters or Catastrophes? When are these visionless selfish and at times hypocritical republican imbeciles going get it? Governments job is to govern and to protect the citizens of Untied States?

    August 29, 2011 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  21. S Man

    How does Ron Paul keep getting elected? His constituents realize that there is no such thing as a free lunch and that with freedom comes personal responsibility.
    Imagine that. A country where we are held accountable for our choices. It's amazing that Paul is considered crazy for professing an ideal which is inherent in a free society.

    August 29, 2011 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  22. Freddy

    Attention Democrats – It's up to you to inform voters of this GOP priority for the country. The other GOP candidates will certainly distance themselves from this extremist, but you shouldn't let them!!!

    August 29, 2011 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  23. Yaqobi

    Ron Paul, I agree. FEMA is wasting money.

    August 29, 2011 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  24. Rob

    Concurr. Greatly reduce or nix FEMA and distribute the agency's budget directly to the states. Beef up National Guard to handle that mission. Maybe keep a redefined smaller FEMA with 3 or 4 Quick Reaction Teams, designed specifically for setting up and managing Mobile Command and Control Centers that can be trucked in where needed to support local First Responders and relief organization. AND while were at it, cut DoHS!

    August 29, 2011 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  25. oldcoaldog

    What has FEMA done that is so great? They show up, a few weeks after something happens, dawdle around, go somewhere, draw huge salaries, and do what? Doesn't anyone remember the tens of thousands who died in LA and MS after Katrina, waiting on Bush and FEMA to help? Ron is right.

    August 29, 2011 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
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