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. John in Brooklyn

    OK....are we seeing his nuttiness finally emerging aka Ross Perot?

    August 28, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. Frank M

    FEMA is worthless in a real disaster. They proved that during Katrina. Remember the trailer debacle? They are just a redundant layer of bloated federal bureaucracy who's job could be done far more efficiently and more responsivley at the state and local level. Abolish FEMA and give the states more of their own tax dollars back so they can support their own first responder and emergency networks, WITHOUT unecessary federal meddling.

    August 28, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. Matram

    There should be a federal agency that monitors comments on CNN and fines anyone who is pathetically stupid. In this case they'd rake in some serious dough. Life before FEMA was just terrible wasn't it. I don't know how the United States made it without FEMA.

    August 28, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. Jake

    Note to Republicans: Ron Paul is the only candidate you have who isn't COMPLETELY insane. He is also the only one who has any chance to beat Obama. He believes in small government and is at least consistent (except on abortion). The rest of your candidates are typical "small government, except when I need it to tell you how to live" whackos.

    August 28, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. Annie, Atlanta

    Honestly, what we really don't need, and could maybe see this if we had a clue, is millionaires representing us in Congress, making laws that are increasingly favoring the rich, like Paul. Their governance has become a huge conflict of interest.

    August 28, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Wise1Speak


    The prevailing thought for those who support Ron Paul's view is to get rid of FEMA and the locals alone will rebuild their own communities. That is an overly simplistic thought that appeals only to the simple minded; as the simpleton assumes all nationwide disasters can be handle with the ease of a Roadrunner-Coyote cartoon chase scene.

    We live on the planet earth and there are numerous regional catastrophes that cross state lines and critically impact a sizeable portion of the nation. In cases like hurricane Irene, and like the recent historic floods and tornadoes to impact the Mid-west, South, and Mississippi river areas; the local communities don't have the muscle or resources to swiftly get back on its feet and quickly join the fight to move America forward.

    August 28, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    FEMA is indeed useles, At least the way George the second used it. And, if Ron Paul lost his coast home he would just move into anothern one. After all he is rich enough to afford one. If you are an average American it is a different story. FEMA provides help for folks who have lost everything.
    Ron is a Tea Party favorite. He wants tax cuts for the really wealthy, cuts to programs that help the poor and disenfranchised (they are not going to vote Republican anyway), and cuts to education (after all why should we care about the education of the generations that come after us).

    August 28, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. bash

    Sad side of this story is the fact that Republicans accuse FEMA for being ineffective under their watch. So, let us get the facts straight. During Clinton era FEMA director was a person with wide knowledge of the department and things went smooth. Bush years Browneee was nominated with no experience whatsoever and things were totally diluted and department was unprepared. Their excuse was they did not forsee the magnitude of the storm. It is like spoiled rich kid in class. When he gets an F it is other people's fault, bad teacher, bad weather, bad day etc. Democrats stand for more efficient government, while republicans hire their cronies. Let that be a lesson to American and American people. Look at the incompetence not political side. Democrats have their flaws, also. Not keeping it in their pens, but at least they do not run on family values....

    August 28, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. ldean

    Of course rich people don't need FEMA. They just get on their private jets and leave. Rich people don't need the EPA – they have lawyers that keep crooked oil companies, water destroying natural gas companies, chemical companies from damaging their land and water. Rich people don't need unions, they own the companies that want to destroy worker's rights. Rich people don't need food stamp programs because they aren't hungry. Rich people don't need a Department of Education because they send their kids to private schools in Europe. Rich people don't need . . .

    August 28, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. olepi

    The Galveston hurricane in 1900 KILLED THOUSANDS of people. That's what Ron Paul and the "Tea Party" want us to go back to, everybody out for themselves, let the rest die. I think we should let Ron Paul work as a cook in a McDonald's, take all his money away, and then let a flood wipe out all his belongings and break one of his legs. FEMA? Who's that? You're on your own, bucko.

    August 28, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. scott

    As a Texas resident I can state without hesitation that the only problem with FEMA was when Bush appointed a President of a Horse Showing organization (Brown) to run it. After Bush's Failure with Katrina Obama cleaned house. During Ike, I worked offloading FEMA trailers nonstop for 10 hours distributing food (MRE's) and ice. Myself and 2 other volunteers unloaded 2 tractor trailors, each holding about 65,000 pounds of supplies. If not for that food and ice, I would guess many seniors and children might not have lived since stores were empty or closed and many parts of Houston were without power for a month. Those against FEMA would do well to read our Constitutions Preamble and the "General Welfare" clause. America it seems is now infested with selfish, uncaring people who would be the first ones to scream if they needed help. We're Americans people, for 200+ years we have banded together to help each other.

    August 28, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. sigmundfreud

    "I live on the Gulf Coast. We put up with hurricanes all the time"

    That has to go down as one of the most amazingly stupid things said by a politician in recent years. What does he do to "put up with hurricanes": Does he batten down the hatches at home and wait it out? Work with the emergency crews is rescue or in restoring roads and power?

    Or does he get as far away from danger as possible, and tell his neighbours "tough like, guys"

    I suspect he is the classic conservative-libertarian: whine about taxes until you need help, then whine that the government's not there to help him.

    August 28, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. APinnon

    I live right by Joplin, and before FEMA showed up, every town within a 3 hour radius helped out, whether it be local businesses or corps. Every HS team that plays against Joplin still donates money. When FEMA showed up, they kicked out a lot of the volunteers and started bossing everyone around on what they could or could not do. I am not sure we should get rid of FEMA, but there is major reform that needs to happen with it. And we would survive without FEMA, we are Americans and we always pull together locally. My local Walmart sent out its people within hours of the Tornado, we had associates that had search dogs and everyone pulled their resources together. We didn't need Government to help us, but it was appreciated. So , again, maybe not a abolition of FEMA, but definitely some reforming.

    August 28, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Duvanie

    If you disagree with Ron Paul, you are probably among the people holding their hands out for other government handouts. Like it or not, people can and do survive catastrophes without a wasteful federal agency stepping in to tell them how to do it. Oh, it's nice when a representative comes knocking at your door and offers to reimburse you (in 6 months) for the generator that you had to buy, but if you want a rolling movie projection of bumbling bureaucratic incompetence, FEMA is a good place to start. BTW, Thank you FEMA for paying my next door neighbor for the generator – you know, the one she borrowed from our landlord.

    August 28, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. Anonymous

    You government loving boot lickers think that there will be no disaster relief if there is no FEMA? Private industry would have been cleaning up Katrina before it stopped raining

    August 28, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. chris

    BTW, for all you people saying he loves taking government money...for the last time...

    "As a member of Congress, Paul continues to refuse to sign up for the government pension that he would be entitled to in order to avoid receiving government money, saying it would be "hypocritical and immoral".

    August 28, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. Kristina

    This is the Tea/Repug party at work. They believe Govt should only work for the top 4% of the population. The rest of us should be happy if we are lucky enough to be trickled down on. Shouldn't the expectation of our govt be that it work, not just be a war machine that creates wealth for the top 4%.

    August 28, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    The next time Texas suffers a natural disaster and asks for federal aid, Obama should just laugh and say "I thought you didn't like federal spending".

    August 28, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Annie, Atlanta

    Ron Paul) – government bad, hookers and heroin good, yet desperately wanting to be part of government.

    Sarah Palin – Alaska independent party – doesn’t know Africa is a continent, not a country. Dominionist.

    Rick Perry – Cowboy, ignorant, Dominionist.

    Michele Bachmann – holder of anti government rally on steps of capitol building. Dominionist. By all outward appearances in need of serious meds.

    Is this what a decline in civilization that we’ve all read about in our history books looks like up close and personal? Have we so little respect left for our country and ourselves that people so full of hate of everything we celebrate are viable candidates for president? And is this as low as we can go, or are there further depths we have yet to explore?

    August 28, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. hypatia

    Another selfish windbag. And he was touted as the 'moderate; thug choice. If Paul thinks that FEMA is unnecessary, I guess we can expect Perry to organise looting gangs.

    August 28, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. finalturismo

    FEMA went door to door and took peoples guns in hurricane Katrina.
    I have no clue how that had anything to do with helping people.
    On top of that, they were like 8 days later to the disaster, and they 100,000s of people a dome.
    People were starving, had no food and no water.... etc...
    So if you dont agree with ron paul, you probably are just un educated...

    August 28, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. guitarharry

    Ron Paul comes off as an insensitive, ivory tower guy, looking down on the "stupid people" who do crazy stuff like move near a beach or get addicted drugs. His attitude seems to be something like, " su*ks to be you...I don't care if you live or have made mistakes, so just deal with it...less government means you are on your own, buddy!" My brother, one of his followers, actually said to me it was something like " survival of the fittest." No wonder nobody will vote for this fruit-loop!

    August 28, 2011 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Jake

    And the state/local governments will fund these emergency efforts how? Or California? It's a pipe dream you small government wackjobs ...there has to be SOME governmental oversight. I know Illinois would be screwed if they had to pony up the buck to cover emergency efforts. And I'm pretty sure California couldn't cover a creek flood let alone a massive earthquake.

    And FEMA wasn't the problem in NOLA was the local government and the president to react when he received assessments.

    August 28, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. saywho

    FEMA and the Homeland security boondoggle need to vanish. Put disaster recovery back under the 'duck and cover' organization of the past. Worked for emergencies before FEMA,

    August 28, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. Virgil

    I'm so sick of this talk about returning our gov to the size it was when our constition was written. I for one do not wish to live in a agrarian society with SLAVES and where no one has rights at work!! Remeber the textile factories full of children workers?

    August 28, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
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