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. deanzna

    RON PAUL is simply stating that each state needs a fema equal. a state fema would respond quickly and be best suited for each states special needs. RON PAUL stresses the need to return government to its original size intended in our constitution. the states were to have more power then our massive federal government. we now have a huge government that is growing daily and reaching into our lives more and more. dont let media pick again ! See if you agree RONPAUL2012.COM

    August 27, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. blue j in cali

    @ jessica
    telling people that have had thier entire community destroyed by a natural disaster to pull up their own bootstraps? If the boot was on the other foot I dont think that would be your opinion. but hey at least it isnt happening to you.

    August 27, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Robert

    Those of you commenting seem to believe that Ron Paul doesn't believe in disaster relief. That's not true. FEMA has proven itself to be ineffective. Yes, they do some things correctly. But their performance as a whole is slow and cumbersome. He's not saying that we don't need disaster relief. He's saying that local relief, by local people, is far more effective than a slow and restrictive government agency.

    August 27, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. THill

    Ron Paul is exactly right on this. When the federal government gets involved it undermines the people and local emergency response time. When we think we can't live with out government help and hand outs we have already lost our freedom. Not everyone but there are a lot of people that will take as much and all the help that is available for them just so they do not have to go out and look for means to take care of them selves. I love this country and hope for the best but when we think government has to take care of us there is something very wrong.

    August 27, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. Konrad

    Why Ron Paul not go after the massive Department of Homeland Security? FEMA was absorbed into DHS effective March 1,2003. Emergency management professionals testified that funds for preparedness for natural hazards was given less priority than preparations for counter terrorism measures. Testimony also expressed the opinion that the mission to mitigate vulnerability and prepare for natural hazard disasters before they occurred had been separated from disaster preparedness functions, making the nation more vulnerable to known hazards, like hurricanes.

    August 27, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. blue j in cali

    @ tony
    ron paul does not like spending federal taxes to help poor people, you are allowed your own opinions but not your own facts buddie.

    August 27, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Gavin Engel

    Of course he's right. Free market insurance companies are much more effective, and cheaper than government insurances, like FEMA and FICA. Socialism is seductive, please fight it.

    August 27, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Elaine

    It looks like the great debate on the government"s role in our lives that Republicans , such as Rush Limbaugh and Neal Boortz; and carried by Ron and Rand Paul, and now the Republican front-runner, Rick Perry is here.If it were left up to them, as Ron Paul has stated, there would be no FEMA; and if Rick Perry had his way, no Social Security System, Dept. of Education,and on and on.They would dismantle the Federal gov't to the point that we wouldn't even look like the United States anymore.Do I think that there is some wasteful spending by the federal gov't? In some cases, yes. but by and large ,no.but ; and you get what you pay for.If you want a country that can't help its people in a major disaster,like Katrina, or possibly Irene; if you want a country with unsafe workplaces, and no one who cares; if you want a country where dangerous medical waste can be dumped in your backyard or water supply; and have and unsafe food , bridges; 100 hr. work weeks; and on and on' then, these are your guys.We would turn the clock back on America , and go back to the good old days when restaurants and hotels, which are private businesses, wouldn't be forced to admit people of color; when we have more plane crashes ; and only people of means can educate their children; and where Texas, Missouri, and New Hampshire can disassociate themselves from the rest of the Union whenever they please.; and if Rick Perry becomes president, in this political climate of insanity, they may all get what they wish for.

    August 27, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. John

    We can still take care of each other. We can do so voluntarily through charities like the Red Cross. We do not need government.

    August 27, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. Eric C.

    I find it interesting that a lot of people here consider Ron Paul to lack compassion by saying we don't need FEMA.
    Since when does wanting to eliminate an ineffective, unConstitutional, bureaucracy equate to saying, "I don't give a damn, let everyone fend for themselves"?

    Did you ever stop and think that perhaps if these federal agencies didn't exist, then the states would have more money to manage their own disasters? And even if they did not, what is to stop the other states from voluntarily giving/sending aid to help with another state's disaster?

    August 27, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Ralph

    I have to admit that FEMA's response to Katrina was very poor. BUT I have to wonder how FEMA's effectiveness was influenced by the GW Bush presidency? Specifically, that GWB possibly didn't care much for the citizens of Louisiana, because so many of them were Black.

    August 27, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Marcus

    I agree with Ron Paul, FEMA is just another parasitic program that ought to be cut. When Katrina hit our church was going to go down to help the people, you want to know who got in the way and prevented that help? FEMA did. Individuals are much better at helping out other people than inefficient government agencies.

    August 27, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. DorisV

    Is their any higher intelligence among TX politicians? Doesn't seem so with the likes of Bush, Paul and Perry. As if TX didn't get federal help after the hurricane that hit Galveston and other areas on their coast in recent years. Lash Paul to the lighthouse on Cape Hatteras and say it he has ti say later.

    August 27, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. musicmax

    FEMA is a bad idea on many levels.

    First, it is impossible for one federal agency to acquire expertise in handling EVERY kind of natural disaster. Coastal states understand hurricanes. Midwestern states understand dust bowls. California knows earthquakes. People who live on rivers understand floods. "Brownie" and Janet Napolitano understand NONE of them.

    Second, it is morally bankrupt and economically disastrous to allow people to continually build and rebuild and rebuild at taxpayer expense. Why should an unemployed person in New Hampshire be subsidizing the reconstruction of some billionaire retiree's oceanfront estate in Florida? Stop subsidizing this irresponsible behavior and let the people who can afford those oceanfront mansions pay for their own hurricane insurance.

    August 27, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  15. Josh

    Remember this, whenever the" Federal Government" creates anything. It's not about managing those things well or being efficient. If you disagree, please name one policy or program that the Federal Government has superbly created, managed, or has overseen. It is done to justify the increase the size and scope of Government, so it has an excuse to tax you... further. War is the same. War is used to justify increased spending, which is why we often go to lenghty un-Constitutional, undeclared Wars. It's to print more money. You pay for it. The soldiers die for it. And no one wins but the special interests. Let the States do what they need to. Let the Federal Government do as the Constitution intended.

    August 27, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. DorisV

    Worked with a medical disaster team from NM. We were sent to FL, Miami-Dade area after Hurricane Andrew. Worked in the emergency room of a large clinic near the everglades. We air or ground evacuated people who needed hospitalization to Miami. Yes, we had issues with FEMA. In times of serious problems a clearinghouse is necessary to co-ordinate the activities of providers or worse problems could occur. FEMA acts as a clearinghouse and dispatcher in my way of thinking. We are the USA after all and should look out for all of our people.

    August 27, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. John

    Rita did nothing to Galveston, Ike tore it up but it was not FEMA that kept homeowners off the island but the former mayor. Ron Paul has done nothing for his district he is the republican version of Shela Jackson Lee.

    August 27, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. Joshua

    I find it interesting how over the course of 50 years we have been trained that those in Washington have the political answers to all of our educational, economical, medical, and disaster related problems. I was in Fl roofing houses after the 2005 hurricane season. FEMA was charging close to $500 dollars to tarp of a leaking roof. I can tell you right now that tarping off a roof doesn't cost $500. Instead of people tarping off their own roofs they waited for the government. Why do we need the buearucracy team to come in from D.C. to manage a local disaster? Why aren't the unemployed of the respective states given jobs to help with the clean-up and repair?

    August 27, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. Times Are Changing..

    Unlike past disasters & Presidents, President Obama, FEMA, & the Red Cross are Actually ON THE BALL with This Disaster. What Needs CUT, Mr. Paul, are the Legislative Branches salaries, term limits, & special perks, benefits & retirement. Each & Every one of you should be WITH the American People's systems which all of you are trying to cut! A minority in Congress & House have raised bills suggested cutting your pay...but hmmmm...they are buried & will never see light of day thanks to GreedOverPeople! Those midnight hour passed COLA's for ya'll (while SS rec'd nothing in years), I Thank God that Obama vetoed the last several years. One house members cola raise is equivalent to quite a few SS beneficiaries YEARLY INCOME! AN UNJUST LAW IS NO LAW AT ALL!! GREEDOVERPEOPLE & having majority of Americans as your modern day slaves. If ANY members of Congress are True Christians, this elitism will Stop, Jobs brought back home, Taxes RAISED on upper crust & loop-holes CLOSED! Ya'll worship your money, status & "things" and have Totally Forgotten God & your fellow brothers/sisters. OBAMA 2012!!

    August 27, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  20. Ava Jade

    I agree with him 100%. He is not saying people shouldn't get HELP, he is saying that local government and people can do a way better job than FEMA, who just tries to prevent people from helping each other. There are lots of charities and generous people willing to give and we don't need a government agency getting in the way.

    August 27, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. blue j in cali

    How is each state going to have thier own FEMA when the federal government keeps stripping away money to the states. If you all can remember that far back, you would know that the national guard was busy looking for weapons of mass distraction when katrina hit and was unable to respond in time. How is that FEMA's fault? Lack of revenue would make 50 different underfunded disaster organizations an utter waste of state funds. people please stop voting against your own interests. The Koch brothers are not your friends.

    August 27, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. Rodney

    FEMA and NOAA is blowing this storm out of proportion for political gain not public safety. Wake Up, the last NOAA update was 5 hours ago, they want the percieved threat to last as long as possible before having to tell the truth. They want money to be spent and they will spread fear to do it.

    August 27, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. blue j in cali

    @ Nathan
    i never said he wanted a disaster, i said he dosnt want to pay for other peoples problems. Most dont until it happens to them. Leadership is about bringing people together to get past that greedy impulse.

    August 27, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. JB

    According to two government reports released in 2009, FEMA’s Katrina emergency housing program, for example, was a massive waste of taxpayers’ money: “FEMA paid out nearly a third of a billion dollars over three years for temporary housing for displaced disaster victims of the 2005 hurricane season. These housing units were also declared by FEMA to be unsuitable for housing because of formaldehyde contamination and are awaiting disposal.”

    In addition to that, it took FEMA six years to figure out that it overpaid and mistakenly awarded money to victims of Katrina, Rita, and Wilma $600 million. MSNBC reported, “Up to 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received aid under FEMA’s emergency cash assistance program-which included the $2,000 debit cards given to evacuees-were based on duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers, or false addresses and names…Thousands of additional dollars appear to have been squandered on hotel rooms for evacuees that were paid at retail rather than the contractor’s lower estimated cost. They included $438 rooms in New York City and beachfront condominiums in Panama City, Florida, at $375 a night.”

    August 27, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  25. dom youngross

    Financial relief from the damages of a natural disaster outside of private insurance is charity from your neighbors - who may live nearby or a thousand miles away.

    It seems that the notion of receiving charity when needed bothers many people - those lacking the benefits of humility and gratitude, and who may also regularly fail to respond on the time- and money-giving end of charity when times are good for them, as a routine matter of habit. So such would rather see charity institutionalized as a legalized right, in this case via FEMA, to absolve them from being humble and grateful.

    Charity is a beautiful thing. Demanding it and feeling entitled to it are not.

    If you want to make the argument to keep FEMA going as is, that they are doing a cost-effective, non-wasteful job, okay, but check first to see if you are right with charity. Then second, check to see if your defense of FEMA is a domestic cop-out on your part for not actively opposing the grand continuing wastefulness of our involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya - i.e. we're siphoning off so much wealth in a non-charitable way around the world that darn straight, you want to reserve some of that non-charitable siphoning for yourself, should you need it at some future date.

    August 27, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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