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

    Living in Florida I beg to differ. This state could not have handled the 2005 storms. LA...could not and did not handle Katrina. WE are the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. We take care of each other. When living in a disaster sometimes...those there with you that are charged to help....MAY NEED HELP TOO!

    August 27, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. James

    Maybe he's right.

    August 27, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. thomas

    And the Titanic didn't need life boats ?

    Just when you think this guy has a clue , he goes weird !

    August 27, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. Jay

    Lots of people in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas do not exactly hold FEMA’s effectiveness in responding to disaster in very high regard. When FEMA can out do Wal-Mart in the efficiency and efficacy of its response to disaster, we can then discount the initiative and cooperative efforts of private citizens and private organizations, as well as the effectiveness multi-state cooperative compacts, in favor of a FEMA-type response.

    See also “Big-Box Stores' Hurricane Prep Starts Early” by Jon Hamilton (8/26/2011) and “Wal-Mart Aid Outpaced Some Federal Efforts” by Frank Langfitt (9/9/2005) both on National Public Radio.

    August 27, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Eric

    Keep saying it. Right down to your eighth place finish in the polls.

    August 27, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. Pyrometman

    I have to agree with Ron Paul on this one. FEMA is a waste of money besides not being constitutional. It is always much better when emergencies are handled at the state/local level. The emergency plans can be customized for the known potential problems in a region.

    August 27, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. LegendRx

    The cookie truck is on its way! I mean Ron Paul.s motorcade, They will be bringing his straight jacket, I mean, a change of clothes.

    August 27, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  8. jnpa

    I wonder if Mr. Paul would have made those comments today if the President hadn't gone to FEMA today. Already they are criticizing the President with reference to the hurricane. If he didn't go and stayed in the White House they would complained about that. The next thing we will hear is Perry, or Palin or Bachmann blaming him for the hurricane!

    August 27, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. Matt

    Great article! Most Americans are now against FEMA and I think Ron Paul points out a few of the many great reasons to end FEMA and give the power back to the state and local governments.

    August 27, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. lynn

    Lets see, start with dismantling every government department or agency, continue on to all of Congress and the White House, including staff. Sounds about right, we're right back where we started in 1776. Clean slate, then arm everybody and it's every man for himself, total anarchy. Think I'll start with my own highway, maybe my own army too. Lynn's Army.

    August 27, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. M H Talbot

    So let me guess, we also don't need the EPA, CDC, CIA, FBI, NSA, NTA, NASA, VA or the Supreme Court? TWIT!

    August 27, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Matt

    I think reasons like this are why Ron Paul is now 3rd in National Polls and in a dead heat against Obama in a hypothetical head to head match up.

    August 27, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    ok Mr Paul...let's try to see what happens here if FEMA doesn't show up. I bet homes like you and your son's will be well protected because you can afford it. And it's usually the people that can afford it or are not effected by such things that make comments like yours.

    August 27, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. blue j in cali

    Wingnut libertarians would just love to see another katrina disaster huh? Mr. Paul thinks that people are pourposly living in hurracane ridden areas to collect govt. handouts. What an fruitcake you are sir, and shameful too.

    August 27, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. Jessica

    When government gets in the way of help – as they did masterfully during Katrina – it's time for reform.

    What Paul is fighting against is the mentality of millions in this country that we need Big Daddy Federal Government to solve all our problems. It's exactly this mentality that has allowed government to grow so large and intrude into every aspect of our daily lives.

    How has that been working out for you? With nearly 10% unemployment and huge deficits and debt, how is Big Government working out for us?

    August 27, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    He has a point. After Rita........residents were prevented from going onto Galveston Island, and taking care of business. Prolonged the recovery by at least 2 yrs, for no good reason.

    August 27, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. Dee

    I am from NC we just experienced Irene so for him to make such a statement when people are hurting and anxious is crazy maybe he should pickup the tabs. It is people like this that don't have compassion for this country and want government to stop intruding in our lives. He certainly wouldn't make a good President you would be on your on.

    I am waiting to see how many GOP governors, Teaparty people and GOP candidates accept Fema Emergency funds after hurricane Irene hit their areas and constiuents.

    August 27, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. blue j in cali

    @ Jay
    i beg to differ with you on that, as Wal-Mart was not giving away fema trailers for people to live in. Would it have made you more happy if those familys had to live in a brand new tent shipped over from china? Where is the humanity?

    August 27, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. Curzen

    he's correct, hurricane katrina has clearly shown that the richer you are the less likely you are to need any assistance from FEMA. My middle class in-laws on the other hand wouldn't have had a roof over their head without a fema trailer, however much maligned those were. It's the usual libertarian party line, do away with anything rich people don't need, just keep the courts and prisons open, the police and military well staffed, anything else their abundance of money can buy.

    August 27, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Tony

    FEMA spends too much of their time arresting people and not enough time actually helping people who are hurt by disasters. Ron Paul isn't against disaster aid. He's against ineffective government agencies that do more harm to the situation than good. Aid in these situations is always a good idea, but not when its given in the wrong way. Organizations like the Red Cross are much faster and more effective in the use of their aid than the government in these cases.

    August 27, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. vick

    Where has FEMA been since the 1900's, that is so essential in our lives now?

    August 27, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Bill from GA

    There are a lot of things our Federal Government does that we can do without, but most Americans want to keep them. Not that everyone wants to keep all of them, but most programs have the support of the majority of Americans.

    Ron Paul is like these government programs; many of his ideas appeal to many Americans. However, when taken as a whole, Ron Paul is too extreme for repugs or liberals.

    Decent guy, though, unlike most repugs. And probably more honest than most politicians. I wonder how his son got so far off base.

    August 27, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. Kenny K

    I am sure none of the people that made coment here are being hit by the hurricane at this moment. Also, I wonder why Ron Paul did not stand at waterfront in NC and make the speech.

    August 27, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. Ra Russell

    I think Ron Paul is right again. I am becoming more and more convinced that he will become one of the BEST Presidents that we have ever had.

    August 27, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. Nathan

    @ blue j in cali
    You can't honestly believe that Ron Paul wants to see a disaster. It's the exact opposite. Look at what happened in Katrina. The response was pathetic, slow, and was far below what was needed. He has said nothing about people wanting to live in dangerous areas to collect money. What he's saying is that those people are capable of protecting themselves, and preparing for the worst. Obviously there's going to be destruction. You have to accept that, living on the coast. That's just the nature of being there. But saying that people can't survive without FEMA is simply wrong. FEMA rarely does anything beneficial that could not be done faster and more effectively by a local organization. We don't need FEMA shipping in people from across the country to help in a crisis. We just need people in the crisis area being prepared, and ready to help each other.

    August 27, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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