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. 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 28, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. Tony

    We can cut half of the people in Congress, who have done nothing except almost causing a government shutdown and a government default. If we want the government to stop working, why bother sending these people to Congress?

    August 28, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Naztaja

    Thank you Mr. Paul. Thanks to your statement I now know why I would never waste my vote on a Libretarian.

    August 28, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. Sliz

    Without FEMA, Tuscaloosa, AL would be screwed. Ron Paul usually makes a lot of sense. Not so much with this.

    August 28, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |

    FREEDOM is OWNERSHIP. If you pay the BILL you OWN what you pay for. You decide what gets done with what you OWN.
    If people sell their FREEDOM to TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES to some government agency SOMEDAY that government agency will have the RIGHTS you gave up. You might find that you no longer have the CHOICE

    August 28, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Lorenzo

    Who, then, would build the Lighthouses? Or the Panama Canal? Or the Interstate Road System?

    August 28, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. Terry - Indiana

    The Republican Party is sort of like a Catholic Priest, before you know it, your pants are down around your ankles, you are bent over, and the rest is historical fact. The Republicans like screwing the poor and middle class, while asking the poor and middle class to put more into the collection basket. Frankly, I think we could make it without the Congress of the United States. Let's just eliminate Washington. What would all of those politicians, like Ron Paul, do without that fat-cat salary, benefits, and pension plan? If Ron Paul wants to cut spending, let him do as the founding fathers, and work for free when in Washington.

    August 28, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Columbus RES

    If Paul wants FEMA gone, that's ok ..Because then,. the state will have to bear FULL Brunt for their stupid permitting along the coast and will no longer can depend on the rest of the country to keep bailing out the low lying areas because idiots chose to live there. When those residents choose to rebuild again, let those respective state governments eat the entire bill because the economies of scale will be gone. Most of this damage was PREVENTABLE.

    August 28, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  9. Dave Lave

    We've had FEMA here in Montana recently due to flooding... I have great pictures on my phone of FEMA employees practicing their golf swing right next to their $100,000 FEMA motorhome. It was right in the middle of the day. Then also took over a local school for their base of operations and racked up phone and electrical bills. About 25 FEMA representatives sat in a room playing solitare on their laptops. Sad.

    August 28, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. Vader

    Ron, Ron, Ron...

    Sometimes, there are things that occur that are just too large for the 'local' handling, and a major hurricane, earthquake, fire, flood are perfect examples. The problem with FEMA has not been in the concept, but in the execution. Put competent professionals in place and it CAN be effective AND efficient. Put political boobs in place, and.... well... Katrina.

    August 28, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. Columbus RES

    That also includes tax write offs for hurricane damage.

    August 28, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  12. M S

    I find it interesting that Ron Paul gets virtually no media coverage for anything else he says, for his various other issues (regardless of whether you object to them or not), or for his poll results for *months* - no effort is put forth into giving him any exposure to let people make their own decisions about his policies. But when an opportunity arises to portray him as a detached lunatic by putting a comment up about FEMA's effectiveness versus its cost against a multiple day wall of fearmongering coverage about a Category 1 hurricane that's "barreling" down the coast to "destroy" the Eastern seaboard, media's got him front and center.

    August 28, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. John

    Think of the nuts that continue to build homes in harm's way and expect the government to come and save them everytime they are in danger, and you can see how Federal involvement gets totally out of hand. I think Ron Paul is right on in this respect - the Federal Government's job is not to clean up after disasters with agencies like FEMA. He's saying this because there are plenty of aid agencies to help. We just should not be overlaying wastful Federal Gov spending on top.

    How about a little common sense from the populous - gee, maybe I shouldn't live in a flood plain!

    August 28, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. Paul Willson

    He is being foolish. FEMA seems to have learnt from the mistakes of Katerina . As for it being a source of a growing deficit ? Well by that token the military could also be eliminated . Let the states develope their own defence. DUMB. This shows that Mr Paul is unfit to be POTUS.

    August 28, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  15. Middle America

    I'm starting to warm to Ron Paul.

    August 28, 2011 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. Jose Wan Sekiavich

    Let's cut the salaries and expense accounts of all government officials, especially those in congress. It is a complete waste of money. These people have more than enough wealth and enough donors to pay for their expenses. Why doesn't Ron Paul stick his money where his mouth is, or is this yet another example of what is good for me, isn't good for you!

    August 28, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. Chris

    Fema is a joke. they are the ones behind all the media hype over this storm so they can justify not getting cut in the deficit battle. I live in Florida and they did NOTHING for me when charlie hit.. you all need to wake up. Ron Paul in 2012!

    August 28, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. Alan


    we don't ned Ron Paul

    August 28, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. Ashley

    You are kidding, right? 1900 Texas and 2011 Texas are two different time periods. If the government can’t help in extreme times of trouble, what is it good for? Collecting taxes to pay witless politicians like you? It probably could be run more efficiently, but few people have the time, money or ability to rebuild destroyed areas alone. Please stop running if this is the best you can do. America needs serious leadership and I am not sure if you would be able to lead us.

    Well guess what Denna... Looks like you don't know much about Ron Paul.. as he is one of only two Congressmen that refuse to take a government paycheck. And far from witless he actually is one of the few politicians that isn't bought and paid for by corporations and special interests. Why do you think the media wants so badly to ignore him? Yep..they don't have him in their back pocket either. Now that's what I call serious leadership.

    August 28, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. West

    This guy and his teabaggin' cronies SAY they love America and the Constitution, but their actions show otherwise. How would Paul explain Jefferson's statement that congress should collect taxes in order "to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union?" Isn't FEMA providing for the welfare of citizens and local governments suffering the effects of natural disasters?

    August 28, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  21. loxsley

    FEMA does play an important role and I believe it's safe to say that they learned a HUGE lesson from Katrina. Paul has a right to his opinion just as do the rest of the GOP candidates, no matter how absurd they may be.

    August 28, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. fahrenheit451bookstore

    We are not a fan of Fema either, but we are supporting federal aide to every state that needs it but as a side line. Its not the agency itself its the mandate under which it is deployed and operates this is a very dangerous agency we would like to see the Emergency aid for disasters moved to another agency so aid and assistance can still be distributed but Fema this agency has the ability to suspend civil liberties, incarcerate citizens, use national guard troops and much more at a Presidents declaration and its not specific only for natural disasters. Fema was not developed to help or aide it was developed to control the population in a disaster to be defined by presidential order!

    August 28, 2011 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. Michael

    Texas: Please secede and take all of these idiot politicians that you breed with you.

    August 28, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. LogicalSkepticism

    This is just more of the same from the libertarian book of political fairy tales, where the public sector is always the evil black knight that causes problems and the private sector is always the heroic white knight that solves problems. Sorry Ron, the private sector is full of ineffective bureaucracy and ineffective policy as well. Anyone who works for a corporation knows that. It's all part of human nature, not whether something is public or private.

    August 28, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  25. Come On

    The people who agree with Ron Paul and say "Yeah, stay out of everything BIG BAD GOV'!" are the first ones who would be crying for someone to save their butt if they ever got hit by a disaster. Such hypocrites.

    August 28, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
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