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. Dave R

    Ron Paul is a perpetual loser. Who cares what he thinks or says. I think we should get rid of Ron Paul.

    August 28, 2011 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  2. Scott

    FEMA is a disaster. Anything tied to the Federal Government is a disaster and FEMA is no exception. So no, we don't need FEMA, What on Earth did we do before 1979 when they were created? And also, does anyone here even realize the power that FEMA wields? Some people have referred to it as the "secret government" of the United States. It is not an elected body, it does not involve itself in public disclosures, and it even has a quasi-secret budget in the billions of dollars. This government organization has more power than the President of the United States or the Congress, it has the power to suspend laws, move entire populations, arrest and detain citizens without a warrant and hold them without trial, it can seize property, food supplies, transportation systems, and can suspend the Constitution.... it's one of the most powerful organizations tied to the Fed Gov't

    August 28, 2011 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  3. mary

    No matter if FEMA did not respond well for Katrina.. It was because of lack of leadership..
    Everyone agrees the people needed help and the problem was it wasn't organized and help didn't get there in time, and was not adequate..
    Those complaints in no way say we do not need FEMA. What is says is that at a time when it was needed it did not function well. So saying we don't need it is actually saying the situation would have been far worse..
    So it seems Ron Paul is just another nut job Republican that want to cut anything that doesn't benefit the rich.

    August 28, 2011 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  4. Scott

    Do a search for "FEMA camps" and learn a little something. Most people who think FEMA is good have no clue what FEMA is about or the power that they wield.

    I'll post it again: some people have referred to it as the "secret government" of the United States. It is not an elected body, it does not involve itself in public disclosures, and it even has a quasi-secret budget in the billions of dollars. This government organization has more power than the President of the United States or the Congress, it has the power to suspend laws, move entire populations, arrest and detain citizens without a warrant and hold them without trial, it can seize property, food supplies, transportation systems, and can suspend the Constitution!!!

    August 28, 2011 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  5. CyrusTG

    Ron Paul is correct. The federal government taxes the states to fund FEMA. So the states are incentivized to NOT spend money to prepare for disasters (since their money already went to the federal government). If the states go ahead and still prepare on their own, they have to come up with MORE money, which means either higher taxes on residents and/or reduced funding for some other highly political "cause". Then, when a state takes care of itself, the feds still show up and get in the way. If a state doesn't prepare, the feds show up with the wrong approach AFTER the damage is already done.

    August 28, 2011 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  6. conselations1981

    When did Ron Paul make these statements? There is no when or where in this story. It doesn't really matter because he's right, but I venture that he made those statements long ago and that they were carefully reserved for the first hurricane of the season. All the good things he does and the common sense ideas he promote never makes it into the news. He wins debates and polls and gets ignored by most media outlets from cnn to fox. – I went through hurricane Ike in Lake Jackson TX. When we didn't have power or food or gas the first help we got was from a collection of churches that banded together and distributed supplies in an orderly and gracious fashion. The closest anyone got to federal help was being put into some FEMA database after spending 5 hours on the phone. No money, no supplies, no help was provided by any government agencies that I saw. I did see the town from the fire department to the judges and business-owners handing out water and food for weeks. Whatever you think FEMA or any other federal government agency did for Texas after Hurricane IKE, you might be surprised.

    August 28, 2011 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  7. Scott

    When this country experiences hyperinflation and there are mobs on the street you better damn well believe that FEMA will be on the frontlines fighting back. FEMA was initially created as a response to any nuclear attack. If, God forbid, there is a nuclear attack, or some huge natural disaster, FEMA can suspend the rule of law and do whatever they want, basically. If there is martial law, FEMA will have the ability to mass incarcerate people for no reason whatsoever. Google: FEMA camps. FEMA is dangerous!!!!

    August 28, 2011 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  8. JoeyATL

    FEMA is a huge waste of money. Those same billions, simply given to the states would get thing done right and fast at the local level. Without millions wasted on studies to see what needs to be done first. The federal government is a sloth at best.

    August 28, 2011 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  9. Kimberly

    Sincerely, he really must not have a clue what all FEMA does. For those of us First Responders that are local that have received training because of FEMA, I say take a little closer look at what they do.

    August 28, 2011 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  10. David, Tampa

    Keep it up Texas consevajerks. Pretty soon we will not have a country. Then we can watch the Mexicans kick you out of THEIR state

    August 28, 2011 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  11. JP

    Before you bash this idea, ask why do we need FEMA. Is it because we should provide free taxpayer insurance for people who refuse to buy their own insurance? Is it to provide expensive emergency services to people who refuse to evacuate? Is it to provide FEMA trailers or hotel rooms indefinitely to people? Is it to provide free debit cards so people can buy big screen tvs? If you think it is a grea idea to help out peolpe who refuse to take responsibility to buy their own insurance or take other precautions then find others who agree with you and start a charity, but don't scream for more federal fundng when the country is already broke.

    August 28, 2011 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  12. David, Tampa

    This whole crowd is too fat to take care of themselves, let alone of anyone else

    August 28, 2011 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  13. steve

    Ron Paul reminds me of Pat Paulson. Only Pat was far more electable.

    August 28, 2011 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  14. David, Tampa

    @ Gavin Engel
    You must work for an insurance company to make a statement like that. We are in this mess over insurance companies and banks. An insurance company is for profit. So where you come off manufacturing a "fact" such as for profit is more efficient than NON profit......oh I get it you are from Texas. It's gotta be the hats.

    August 28, 2011 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  15. David, Tampa

    Free speech does not need moderation or censorship CNN

    August 28, 2011 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  16. Nonymous Coward

    At least he's not a hypocrite like everyone else who whines about taxes and wants federal funding for their district.

    August 28, 2011 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  17. Hexstarski

    Ron Paul is completely correct. I have lived through several Hurricanes and Tropical Storms on the Texas and Louisiana gulf coast–including Ike, Katrina, Rita, Alison, Alicia, etc.–and FEMA is both ineffective and a hindrance. People generally take care of themselves and the their communities when something like this happens. And when there were lots of people who needed help as in Katrina where was FEMA? They didn't show up for days. People posting that we need something like FEMA because the government should be helping are missing the point that, in reality, such government agencies are ineffective, inefficient and unresponsive.

    August 28, 2011 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  18. ExDemocrat

    Speaking as a 32 year old life long Democrat, and newly enlightened Republican from the South, He's right. It's just one more boondoggle that we the people have to pay for.

    August 28, 2011 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  19. Einstein

    I have now determined that he is an idiot.

    August 28, 2011 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  20. Greg

    At least he's being forthright and sane in his response, ........ Im sure all the others are either praying to God for help, or they already know what Gods got planned, as they are directly in on his divine musings for everyone Im sure if Bachmann can pray the gay away Im sure a little wind is no problem..... but at the end off the day its hardly the end of the world there anyway, we get storms like this monthly during winter, whoppee di do, life goes on ....

    August 28, 2011 05:08 am at 5:08 am |
  21. Ellen

    FEMA does needs to be revamped but not discontinued. Ron Paul's comments are insensitve at this time especially to the east coast area that does not get hurricanes on a consistent basis like states in the gulf. The challenge with Ron Paul and the Tea Party as a whole is that they only see and want ot solve the problems of the forrest without taking into acount the impact it will have on the trees, plants and other living things in the forrest. Basically, they are narrow-minded.

    August 28, 2011 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  22. Dave

    FEMA was RESTRICTING donations coming in to aid katrina victims, and ordering them to be returned. We are a caring nation, and when in need, we are MORE than generous. If there is an area calling for help, we answer with overwhelming sympathy. FEMA is an inefficient MESS. If it didn't exist, charities, non-profits, and states would do MORE than enough to deal with any catastrophe. Paul is right.

    August 28, 2011 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  23. FM

    Too much of nonsense from this man. When the disaster occurs, it affects everybody, and changes our way of living. And worse enough it puts everything at an hold. This is the time we need an agency like FEMA than ever. If Ron Paul could have come with ideas of how to make FEMA work better and efficiently, I could have understood him. Talking the way he is doing now, makes people think about his credibility!

    August 28, 2011 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  24. Paul

    If you have ever been involved in a hurricane, you would know that all FEMA does is slow things down by monopolizing the entire recovery process. They lockout all outside sources from working on the process independently while making everything weighted down by long bureaucratic procedures and a ton of paper work.

    August 28, 2011 05:44 am at 5:44 am |

    This guy is headed toward 6% in each primary again like he did in 2008. He is an out of touch nutjob.

    August 28, 2011 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
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