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. Josh

    FEMA's intentions are well thought out but in reality they hinder more than they help. It's not hard to understand, and I think it would be wise to cut FEMA and if we do, possibly look at some other way of helping disaster victims.

    August 28, 2011 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  2. Andrew Mock

    FEMA was *huge* help in Katrina efforts...

    Go big or go home, FEMA...

    August 28, 2011 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  3. Lenny Pincus

    Proves how completely unequipped Ron Paul is for anything other than entertainment. And Bush? He put incapable people in charge of FEMA, and guess what? They proved their incompetence. Ask the people of Nashville what they think of FEMA since Obama installed some professionals.

    August 28, 2011 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  4. snowyowl

    Paul and the anti-govt crowd are delusional. Katrina and any disaster of similar or larger magnitude requires a national response coordinated on a national scale. The problem during Katrina wasn't FEMA per se, it was the group of incompetent Bush cronies running the show. So yeah, it matters that the president takes disaster relief seriously. Paul's everyone-for-themselves libertarian philosophy indicates that he does not take it seriously. Neither should we take him seriously as a candidate for our highest office.

    August 28, 2011 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  5. soporifix

    At least he's honest about his stupid ideas. When we were all standing in line for FEMA ice and emergency meals after Hurricane Ike, when it was 100 degrees and no electricity for two weeks, I'd have loved to have Ron Paul come up and tell us we should just figure it out ourselves. Maybe he would have cooled off the 80-year-old grandmothers and fed the crying children with the sheer force of his personality.

    August 28, 2011 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  6. Karen

    Emergencies are better handled at the local level, by people who know the infrastructure of the areas they are administering to. FEMA is like a well meaning but overbearing busybody, sticking their nose in everyone's business, adding to the mass confusion of the situation at hand. Dr. Paul simply wants to eliminate an ineffectual bureaucracy that does nothing but soak up valuable resources. Don't let Liberal Socialists brainwash you into thinking otherwise. As Americans we really can take care of ourselves, we don't need babysitters anymore.

    August 28, 2011 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  7. David

    FEMA is a horrible thing until you are the one that needs it....

    August 28, 2011 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  8. soporifix

    Don't judge FEMA by Katrina. That was under Heckuvajob Brownie and his imbeccile boss. You can't destroy government and then complain that it doesn't work. The problem isn't government - it's who's in office and who's voting.

    August 28, 2011 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  9. Pete from St Paul

    And Ron Paul will also say we don't need the CIA, the FBI, NASA, the EPA; and just about everything the Federal Govt does. Basically, Ron Paul believes we really shouldn't have a Federal Government. So why the heck is he really running to be President? I know! These are the folks like Michelle Bachmann who alluded to her stint in the IRS, to dismantle it from the inside out. The T(rojan) Party.

    August 28, 2011 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  10. Larry

    I stayed at a hotel which hosted a large number of FEMA employees for training. They were some of the stupidest people I've ever encountered. They first drew my attention by shouting their computer passwords across the room during breakfast, and I could fill paragraphs with their other idiotic comments. After that day, I realized there is no way these people are capable of helping anyone in ANY situation.

    August 28, 2011 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  11. peter

    wow, look at all these commenters. You would think that FEMA is the only thing that helps people during natural disasters the way they're talking (hint: they aren't!). There's several PRIVATE companies who do more than FEMA, and they're more organized to boot.

    Anyone remember the several thousand mobile homes that FEMA made for Katrina victims that never got delivered? Yup, they're still sitting there unused. And they have toxic formaldehyde fumes too!

    August 28, 2011 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  12. Art R

    Whatever one says about FEMA, it is more effective than this dysfunctional Congress with Paul in it. The 2008 budget for Congress was about $4.3 billion. About $1.2 billion of that was for items that might be useful such as CBO, GAO and the Library of Congress. So in 2011 with budget increases over three years and subtracting out the useful entities over $3 billion is being spent this year on an entity which has produced virtually nothing and has an approval rating of about 12%. In fact the debt ceiling debate was actually an economic negative for the country. Perhaps Congress could still do something useful like cutting it's own budget to match it's low level of productivity. Congress has become just a platform for preparing for the next election and gaining more power, all at taxpayers expense.

    August 28, 2011 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  13. kazz

    Uhm ... yeah sure ok dude. Whatever.

    August 28, 2011 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  14. bmull

    Paul's not the only GOPer who says this. I guess it's hard for CNN to admit that "mainstream" pols like Eric Cantor say the same thing.

    August 28, 2011 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  15. Karen

    To those who do not know, FEMA does not arrest people, they also do not activate to states unless request by that states Govenor. Each state has their own emergency managment agency.....when they feel that they cannot handle the disaster, then they can call before you blame FEMA, check the actions of your own states Emergency Management Agency. Unlike the FBI, DEA and other agencies, FEMA does not have jurisdiction to just go in and regulate, assistance must be requested by each state first......check it out..

    August 28, 2011 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  16. Todd

    We need to get rid of Ron Paul , brain dead old man

    August 28, 2011 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  17. judith

    What a crotchety old cretin. Perhaps Marcus, your church was will-equipped to deal with emergency and the professionals were well aware of the fact. FEMA has been much more effective under this President than it was under Michael Brown, Bush's incompetent political crony who headed it up at the time of Katrina. Heckuva job, Bushy.

    August 28, 2011 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  18. Drew Williams

    Listen to all the new libertarians. If Paul's against the principles of federal disaster aid, maybe he's against unemployment insurance too. Then what would you unemployed libertarians do? Move into the street with your family, that's what you'd do. Then I'd like to see what you think of Ron Paul.

    August 28, 2011 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  19. Michie

    He's right! If you think more government is the answer, it's a stupid question.

    August 28, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  20. stacey

    Since he represents the people who voted for him, how about not sending FEMA to his area the next time disaster strikes? I'm sure his people would understand because he, after all, speaks for them.

    August 28, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  21. Anonymous

    After working with FEMA for two years out of its region 3 office in Philadelphia, I totally agree with ending FEMA. They do next to nothing in the mitigation of disasters and only prolong recovery efforts due to their lack of capabilities in areas to which they are not accustomed. States and Local governments could much more efficiently handle disasters from my experience there.

    August 28, 2011 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  22. John

    I agree with Dr Ron Paul. He is just saying that the Federal government cannot do these things better then the local authorities or private businesses. Historically, private businesses have always been more successful.

    August 28, 2011 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  23. LauraJT

    We don't need FEMA, we don't need Social Security, we don't need Medicare . . . hell, we don't need a President. So why is this idiot running?

    August 28, 2011 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  24. fsulevine

    So many people are clueless. Remember, this is NOT the same FEMA from the George W. Bush years. That was a complete failure, as he put a friend in charge who had ZERO experience in Emergency Management. The head of FEMA that President Obama appointed is W. Craig Fugate. He was the head of the Florida Division of Emergency Management for several years and led them through the devastating 2004 Hurricane season. He has spent his entire career in Emergency Management of some sort... started out as a fireman, quickly worked his way up to Fire Chief in Alachua County, Florida, and then moved onto the State Division of Emergency Management, where he worked his way up to the head of that agency. He is completely changing the way FEMA does things. Irene is the first true test of the new FEMA since he took over. Watch how different things go. I guarantee it.

    August 28, 2011 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  25. bobby johnson

    I live in Scarsdale, NY. As I am writing this, my town is being hit by hurricane Irene. We are an extremely democratic liberal jewish town. And Ron Paul is 200 percent right on this. FEMA is unconstitutional. Congress does not have the eneurmated power to deal with hurricane damage. Why should a person living in California have their taxes raised to pay for hurricane damage in new york? Its pure idiocy. And besides, FEMA has done such spectacular jobs at dealing with disasters in the past, especially in New Orleans.

    August 28, 2011 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
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