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

    fema doesnt have any money to give anyone, those are our tax dollars which i would rather have in my pocket in case i need it in an emergency. we have the national guard to help us fill sand bags if need be, we already have the fbi, cia, dea, atf, ice, tsa,dia, ss, homeland security, department of justice, ero, usbp, cbp, fps, usms, ero, and more not to mention local, state police agencies to spy on us and point machine guns in our faces for almost everything under the sun, we dont need fema to point guns in our faces withold supplies, and move us into their camps during emergencies. another burocrasy during an emergency to make things worse

    August 27, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Galveston


    Your church CAN help, but it needs to help through an organized agency. Otherwise, while you are down here helping, other groups are down running scams and ripping people off. The picture is bigger then you wanting to help.

    August 27, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  3. last train

    It's really amazing how the truth is so offensive to some people!

    August 27, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. Jeremy

    @jnpa Ron Paul made his statement YESTERDAY afternoon in response to a reporter's question. It has nothing with Obama visiting FEMA.

    August 27, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  5. Craig

    For those holding up Katrina as proof of FEMA's ineffectiveness let me shed a little light on that.
    Help was on PURPOSE withheld from those devasted by Katrina, international aid poured in, 850m, but only 5% was *allowed* to be spent on those needing to be helped. The rest was withheld by the Republican administration. Helping the poor and those in need isn't something that they ever want to do, ever.
    At the time of Katrina, FEMA was rolled into Homeland agency. And guess which part got the priority? A lot of key personnel had left FEMA mainly due to cut backs and intentional funding starvation tactics, something Bush did a lot to agencies he did not want (like SEC, EPA and FDA)
    Using a republican era crippled FEMA is not a good example of the effectiveness of a disaster emergency agency.
    Yeah go a head, dismantle FEMA and let the burden fall to the local level. But wait ... cities and states all across the USA are so under budget that they are laying off cops and firemen how can they afford ANY kind of disaster preparation efforts?
    To say that a national emergency agency isn't needed is to admit that you are still living a century behind the times.

    August 27, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  6. w l jones

    Some of these poster should been around in this country did not have any kind of protection for a portion of it people. Only the rich and well to do got government help during national disastrous Enough said..

    August 27, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  7. skarphace

    This is why Ron Paul will not win the Presidency. He does not know what not to say.

    Abolish FEMA, abolish public schools, abolish the EPA, abolish unemployment benefits, abolish disability benefits, abolish public health care, abolish welfare, abolish the food stamp program, abolish Social Security and Medicare, abolish the federal reserve, abolish all unions, bring all our troops home and use them to secure our borders only.

    These are things you should say behind closed doors, not in public where voters will hear you. Do we need to decrease spending? Absolutely. Do we need to abolish the social safety net all together? Absolutely not. The government should be more than just military leaders securing our borders. They should also help citizens when they need help.

    Ron Paul is the antithesis of a polititian: he is too honest. This is why he is unelectable.

    August 27, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  8. bg

    Look through these comments – a lot of people assume that the need for FEMA is a given. Why? Because disasters are so horrible that we must need something. And here is where people make a mistake: they assume that if we need something, it must be from the federal government. Ron Paul didn't say we don't need a response to disasters. He said we don't need FEMA to do it. And he's right in this case. The federal government doesn't do a good job at managing local issues. FEMA is a prime example. Instead of assuming the federal government is the power in charge of solving all our problems, we should expect more of state and local govt and of non-government entities and of ourselves.

    August 27, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  9. Chelsie

    This article makes it seem as if Ron Paul has no interest in any sort of help to those in need. That's not true and if you actually did research on topics – instead of believing whatever the media tells you – then maybe you'd be able to have an informed opinion. Simply stating that he's crazy is just ignorant because you obviously have not read up on his policies.

    August 27, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  10. Chris

    FEMA in its base form is pretty much a social program. Its not not radical about it, but I wouldnt care if it went....and mind you I live outside storms happen all the time. WHo knows...I may need help one day because of some major event. Personally I dont think I need them.

    August 27, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  11. Allan

    Wow, People I think you need to look into how FEMA works. Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue for example.. When your County does not have something you need or the money its a good idea when you can call the middle man and get a resource to help you out.

    August 27, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  12. Phil in KC

    Just more proof that this guy is whacko. Good thing he doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hades of getting elected.

    August 27, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. Dank Rankinforrest

    I'm looking at many of these of posts thinking; "please go start your own country without any taxes.................or roads or bridges or sanitary sewers or water supply or police or firemen or stop lights of stop signs or electricity or sanitation or.......maybe you can then cure your very own dysentery with all the money you've saved, maybe you can buy a coon skin cap and run around like it's 1687"

    Some of you people frighten me.....

    August 27, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  14. Joe

    One more excuse for the federal government to spend our money. States can help each other out, and local citizens. Federal government should do its job and stay out of trying to nanny everyone on every need it's pathetic and wasting money.

    August 27, 2011 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  15. Rake

    I agree with Ron Paul. If I build my house on the edge of a volcano I shouldn't expect someone who lives thousands of miles away to pay for it when the volcano torches my house. It turns out the constitution is timeless and individual responsibility has always been a great idea.

    August 27, 2011 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  16. sheila kind

    No one doubts that Ron Paul believes what he says. It's what he says that is truly frightening. Without a strong and efficient federal government, response to disasters is unlikely to be particularly effective on state/local levels either. This is something that sometimes requires the national guard to step in to keep order and protect businesses and people. It also requires large sums of money that most states simply do not have on hand. Rick Perry wasn't bashful about asking for federal aid after IKE, trust me. Most people dislike FEMA now on the basis of the Bush administrations poor stewardship - appointing unqualified people for political favors, etc., and overall disastrous handling of KATRINA. If you want to know who truly destroyed the federal government's effectiveness in handling just about anything, look no further than Bush/Cheney.

    August 27, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  17. John from Seattle

    I love articles like this. They always bring out the very worst of humanity. And by the worst of humanity I mean anyone who supports this nut Ron Paul. Cultists, nothing more.

    August 27, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  18. Annib

    Well he's right. How many times do coastal communities need to be devastated by natural occurrences before they quit building right next to the ocean? How many times do American tax payers have to share the burden for this abject stupidity? If people weren't living where it's obviously foolish to live, we mostly wouldn't need FEMA and states could handle their own problems, for the most part. There's a little something to think about.

    August 27, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  19. Dan C

    The PAUL'S, both daddy and son, are all about themselves, and, not about the poor or who can not move from poverty.
    How bout some Tea fellas?

    August 27, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  20. TheNever

    Ron Paul is RIGHT AS USUAL.

    You people who think "BUT WE NEED FEMA TO HELP US!" don't see the big picture.

    Look at Katrina. Was FEMA useful there?

    FEMA is just another government agency that shouldn't exist in the first place, stealing tax money to "help" citizens. Things would be much better with local organizations with more accountability.

    August 27, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  21. Jeff

    Ask half of the residents of Houston how great FEMA is!

    August 27, 2011 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  22. natrldiver

    Ron Paul nailed it. FEMA is just another government social dependancy system where because people chose to live where they know natural disasters can occur and either choose to not get enough coverage or no insurance at all! In that case the stupid shall be punished. Fema is nothing more than a funds sucking red tap blocking system that does not help the people. Remove FEMA and enable the people to make their own decisions regarding recovery.

    August 27, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  23. independent

    This is what Republicans believe. If you get in trouble, if you are in need, if you are without power, food, water, etc. it is your own fault. You made bad choices. Why should the rest of America, those who made better choices, have to bail you out? Why should you expect the Government to intervene on your behalf? Either you put yourself in that situation, or God did, therefore don't expect to collect or raise taxes just so the government can assist you – which would be going against God.
    Would someone put these soulless, heartless, self-righteous, millionaire or millionaire wannabees on some small island in the path of a storm.

    August 27, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  24. frank in valparaiso

    Ron Paul is an idiot. He's one of these loonies that the US should go back to the gold standard. His knowledge of economics is abysmal. FEMA provides help at huge emergencies. States cannot handle it, from loans to homeowners to just help and supplies. The areas are damaged. FEMA moves resources from other areas. Your local church cannot do this level of support.
    Every nation had government level plans to deal with disaster. Funny, most other nations don't have idiots like Paul and the Tea Party running around. Or Cantor.

    August 27, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  25. Burt47

    I don't have to read too many of these comments to recognize that the majority of people in favor of FEMA and other federal aid are individuals who live in areas that might incur damage from hurricanes and other natural disasters. The eighteenth century was the Age of Enlightenment. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries are clearly the Age of Entitlement. Every weak, inept, uneducated, foolish or just downright stupid American sits idly in their section 8 housing with their hands out awaiting the largesse of a government they've never donated a dime to support.

    August 27, 2011 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
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