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. Kent Bowen

    Ron Paul is no irrelevant there is really no point in commenting. He obviously wants to take us back to Oklahoma and the Dust Bowl of the 30s.

    August 27, 2011 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  2. Boytjie

    So 50 state FEMAs would be better and more effective than one federal FEMA? That is assuming each state will even bother with one.

    August 27, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  3. Bob Jarrett

    Right Mr. Paul, after the infamous 1900 Galveston Hurricane they build a sea wall. In 2008 Galveston received extensive damage because although the city coastline was much more exposed, Texas didn't build a seawall for the newly developed coastline. That sure is an example of Texas taking care its citizens. FEMA like any organization has problems and learns from past mistakes, but the US needs FEMA far more than Ron Paul.

    August 27, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  4. wonz

    Ron Paul is right. FEMA just gets in the way. All the taxes you have ever paid have been paid to an agency so that they can get in the way of individuals helping each other out.

    Remember this. Charity can only ever be an individual persuit. When government does it it's called stealing, but of course they don't call it that, so it's back to 1984 newspeak again. Stealing is giving. Furthermore government aid only increases the moral hazard. If people do not account for risks, they think they will be bailed out all the time. Life is not risk free. The sooner you realise this the better off you are and the quicker you can get out of this entitletment mentality.

    August 27, 2011 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  5. ed helmstetter

    americans will always help other americans. ron paul encourages it as well-if you think his opposition to fema means he is against americans helping each other then you are misguided

    August 27, 2011 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  6. BD

    Ron Paul is a salesman. His product is small-to-nonexistent central government. Everything else is just part of the sales pitch.

    August 27, 2011 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  7. Brad

    Folks, don't be so narow-minded, FEMA is a worthless moneypit of an organization. Ron Paul is right...the government can provide BETTER support in the wake of natural disasters with a smaller, well-managed agency.

    August 27, 2011 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  8. Roberto

    Ron Paul, take yourself out of the equation. It screws up the whole mathematics. You would prefer that people see to their own needs REGARDLESS of their financial or social situation. In other words, very simply put, "I don't care who you are, where you're from, what your situation is 'money-wise', socially, medically or any other-wise. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. IF YOU ARE SCREWED, TOUGH LUCK! I DON'T FEEL SORRY FOR YOU IN THE LEAST." Seems to me, Ron, that when you took that oath to become a physician, one of the phrases was "Do No Harm". Sounds to me like you got into the wrong profession.

    August 27, 2011 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  9. TD

    We need more people like Ron Paul and their dubious ideas. This will scare even the staunchest Republicans.

    August 27, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  10. labman57

    Paul parties like it's 1899

    The Libertarian ultra-extremist (as well as the conservative Republican/tea party) mindset seems to yearn a return to the days of yesteryear - when workplace regulations were non-existent, people hid their life savings in their mattresses, corporations polluted the land, air, and water at will, unions didn't exist, and it was every man for himself when a natural disaster struck.

    Paul believes that folks have only themselves to blame if they live on the Gulf Coast or eastern seaboard where hurricanes tend to make landfall, and therefore Americans have no business living in Tornado Alley - they're just asking for trouble, and of course the Mississippi River flood plains are definitely off limits, and don't get him started on California and its earthquakes.

    So unless you live in South Dakota, you are taking an unnecessary risk owning a home or business, and if a natural disaster strikes and the state or local agencies are ill-equipped to manage rescue operations and provide financial assistance, well it sucks to be you.

    August 27, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  11. Fuzzbee Morse from Los Angeles

    Good timing, Ron! The only candidate on the Republican side who defies their incessant insanity at all and shows any real cojones says something...insane! Yeah, let's just fend for ourselves with flooding, no power, no public transportation and 80-100 mph winds. Good call!

    August 27, 2011 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  12. lordpet

    I don't get you states rights people. You want to basically eliminate the federal gov't and form a less perfect union that would devolve the USA into a bunch of have vs have not states operating under a weak central government. How on earth could a state like Montana, which has no revenue, manage a natural disaster, or even the highways? I find it ironic that all the red staters, which receive the most gov't largesse, are trumpeting this nonsense. Then you point the finger at Obama and claim he wants to turn the USA into Europe, when that is the exact model of what you want to turn the US into: a coalition of states, each with their own agenda, somewhat bounded by a nebulous and weak central government. Go American Union! Next you'll start shouting, "get your gov't hands off of my Medicare!"

    August 27, 2011 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  13. Walt

    Maybe you guys who love FEMA so much would also be all for a national police force. I mean, how do state and local police survive without a federal babysitter?

    August 27, 2011 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  14. Brad have no understanding of the problems we have with big government. We have multiple agencies DOING THE SAME THINGS. Tax dollars are spent over and over and over again on identical projects done by different agencies that don't even know each other exist. You sound like you'd be happier with a socialist form of government that everyone has no choice but to rely on. Forget working hard for rewards...right? The guy down the street who games welfare is just as equal and entitled to reward as the guy who gets up and goes to work every morning...right? Sickening.

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

    Texas got ten times more money then the Katrina victims. If Katrina had been bound for Texas, Bu$h would have had truckloads of supplies and money rolling in before the rain stopped; however, New Orleans was nothing but a bunch of poor folks so they didn't count.

    August 27, 2011 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  16. Timr

    I believe Ron Paul means well, but he's just not a good communicator. If you read between the lines, what he's really trying to say is the government does not handle our money well in these situations. For the small amount of good that FEMA does it's really not going to be effecient or economical. There are some solutions that don't include a huge wastefull agency. One idea might be to run it like a public supported non-profit, not like NPR but different.

    August 27, 2011 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  17. bigeasyinneworleans

    If FEMA is run correctly, it is definitely needed. It should not be run like the Bush administration did. FEMA under Obama already had everybody in position even before Irene started its turn toward the East Coast, and was in touch with all state and local governments getting their priorities as far as each areas needs in place. They had the plans in place so that once the storm passed, the aid could start being distributed ASAP, unlike Bush and his buffoons.

    August 27, 2011 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  18. Beefburger

    If you knew the amount of power delegated to FEMA you would be shaking in your boots. Do a little research, they can suspend the Constitution if they "deem it appropriate". You may want to ask about those 3 detention Crisis Centers that they have built wtih barbed wire holding pens.

    August 27, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  19. Larry L

    It doesn't take a genius to make critical comments about government services. What has Ron Paul ever fixed? Is whining his contribution to leadership in America? We most certainly need an organization like FEMA. We need capable and pragmatic leaders to improve their function. Anarchists always want to destroy, but nobody wants to live in anarchy.

    August 27, 2011 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  20. libertarian

    @ Curzen Please do some research on libertarians. The last thing we want is "well staffed" police and military, courts and prisons. Those 4 groups do not minimize gov't impact on our lives, in fact it is the opposite. Rep. Paul simply believes (I happen to agree) that we the people could do a better, more efficient job getting aid to each other, voluntarily. I think you may actually like many libertarian views if you are willing to look into them.

    August 27, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  21. Dennis

    Ron Paul saying that America does not need FEMA is ridulous.No,America does not need Ron Paul.There is more to this country than Texas and the Gulf Coast he lives on and hurricanes.He is beginning to sound like that other clown from Texas trying to run for President.There is flooding,fires,earthquakes,and other potential disasters that ravage this country annually.If you live in other parts of the U.S.different types of problems are presented,not just the ones that Ron Paul has experienced.Halliburton and KB&R won't be there for every need that arises!

    August 27, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  22. jimbo

    Ron Paul is the smartest intellectual of all the candidates. And he tells it like it is. Unfortunately, because he is straight talking and doesn't have a "forked tongue" like the rest of the field, he probably won't get nominated. America loves being fooled by ones who promise the world.

    August 27, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  23. Sylvestor Johnson

    We don't need FEMA. What do they do exactly that we need? How do they differ from non-profits and volunteers? They are a waste of tax dollars.

    And some of you, whether Ron is right or not, have no business calling him names. What the hell kind of Americans are you anyway? How dare you speak ill of your seniors. You are the problem in America naysayers, please leave or stand outside when the rioting and shooting starts.

    August 27, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  24. Pimpson

    This guy is such a senile loon. I can't believe there are actually human beings who take him seriously.

    August 27, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  25. Courtney

    Hey Ron Paul, don't forget that it was the Republicans who created FEMA. It just so happens that now the GOP candidates are against everything that involves the government, because Barack Obama is president. I find it a little bit sickening and it's getting old.

    August 27, 2011 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
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