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. Aaron

    He's half right. Rich millionaires living on the Texas coast don't need FEMA....though you can be sure they milk all the money that can out of it. Poor and middle-class people who loose everything do need FEMA despite its usual government incompetence.

    August 28, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. NoPaul

    No Mr. Paul, you are wrong! We do need FEMA. We don't need YOU!

    August 28, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. LH

    Oh, one more thing, i live in Texas. Not a native Texan. You like Ron Paul or Rick Perry? THis is just my opinion, they are bringing those "old fashion southern values" . I here that a lot around here. Big Business mentality, low wages, and really dont care if your kids succeed, but educating anyone other than "their kids" is a waste of money. Like those folks in WI, becareful what you ask for, because they are definitely going to bring it. What is wrong with low wages? Nothing, unless you are the one making those low wages.

    August 28, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. BL

    Republican or democrat, when a disaster hits you, whether man made or natural, forget about "small government.' You want Big Government in a Big Hurry.

    August 28, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. James

    FEMA was down here after Ike? Didn't even notice them. Still trying to figure where the $3 billion went, can't really see it anywhere.

    August 28, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Being an insurance adjuster and witnessing FEMA, it is a big joke. Charity is best from the individual and not government

    August 28, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. anothermuse

    If the states were responsible and effective at disaster management, FEMA wouldn't be needed. The 2004 Florida hurricane's could have been handled because Florida prepares. A year later we saw what happend to New Orleans, as city that doesn't prepare and had little plan other than Fed, please help.

    FEMA's a neccesary evil probably

    August 28, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Victoria

    Paul is not saying that state/community run 'FEMA' equivalents should not exist. He says a federally run FEMA is inneficient. Really, how could a federal agency be efficient in responding to emergencies that vary so much from geographic to geographic location? This is not Monaco or Luxemburgh. This is the USA.

    On a different note, Paul may be the only Republican who can appeal to the most Democrats. Just listen to him.

    August 28, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. oussu

    Ron Paul sometimes has good ideas. This is not one of them. I know someone that lived in Galveston when Ike hit. The lawlessness and looting that went on for weeks is not an advocacy for less involvement, it's one for more.

    August 28, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. Geoffrey in Lowell MA

    I really suggest that people who think Ron Paul sounds nice – add up all the things he thinks are unnecessary and then talk it over with family and friends, what things might have been like if we had done things Ron Pauls way. I can understand how people are taken in by this soft spoken man but really he is the nuttiest of them all.

    August 28, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. flipwolfe

    I am insurance adjuster. I have watched FEMA in action in over 5 hurricanes. Experience, not ignorance has lead me to realize FEMA is horrible.They waste and am now getting into business with blue tarps. The price to the tax payer is 4 times that of a private contractor, who can not compete, since the tarps are free. Charity is best directed by the people, not the government.

    August 28, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. danial54

    I tend to agree with Paul on this one. FEMA is about distribution of supplies after an emergency. Out National Guard could do the same thing and provide security. It would save a ton of money and shrink government.
    And while were shrinking government, lets have a flat tax and then shrink the IRS????

    August 28, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. Mike

    We certainly don't need FEMA, or US Federal Wildland Firefighters, or all the Federal Disaster Support Contracts for tents, feeding and sanitation, or Federal Disaster Managers, or the US Coast Guard, or the even the Federal Millitary. Because we never need or use these resources. It's always magical how things "just take care of themselves". The states are completely capable of draining their treasuries to deal with these disasters that never really occur- at least in the minds of those who live in a world separate from ours.

    August 28, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Cale

    A world without FEMA... A world with Ron Paul, removing federal government wasteful spending, and giving back a ton of money to the people.

    Local disaster relief group comes knocking on my door.

    "Excuse me sir. As you have heard, the federal government has removed the organization FEMA. This means federal diaster relief is no longer there. We have started a local disaster relief group for your neighborhoods. We have storage facility 2 miles from your house that we are looking to stock pile full of nonperishable goods and as many disaster relief crews/vehicles as possible. Would you be willing to join our group? Even if you don't, we will be looking to help as many people as local support can supply."

    Me: "Why yes, I would love to support our local economy as well as disaster relief. This is especially easy since I have a huge influx of money from much lower federal taxes. I would like to volunteer a little time to help during disasters if possible as well. I love supporting our local community!"

    Seems to make sense to me.

    August 28, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  15. J. Christensen

    While I would never consider voting for Ron Paul for President, I do think that he serves a very useful purpose for the country. He's not afraid to speak his mind. When he speaks his mind, he's blunt, and as far as I can tell he's honest. I think we need Ron Paul right where he is. He has the ability to get people to focus on ideas and start conversations. Really, would any of us have started a conversation about FEMA if he hadn't said anything? I read what he said and then went online to do some research about FEMA. What I found was troubling. I think FEMA should be looked at as one area for budget cuts. I don't think it should be eliminated. I would never have taken the time to look into it if Ron Paul hadn't raised the issue. That's what he's best at doing and we need him to keep doing it. What we don't need is for his supporters to assume that every word out of his mouth is golden. Sadly, when he speaks, too many people just start parroting what he says without doing any thinking for themselves. Choosing who to vote for requires more thinking than that.

    August 28, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Ted

    FEMA – nothing to brag about here. All they do is assign payments to their preferred contractors, who in turn, overcharge the American taxpayer, and most of the services and equipment is never delivered, or is abandoned and written off as a loss which just adds more debt to society. They are nothing but a huge political junket designed to make select people rich while the American people suffer more financial loss. Why in the hell would we want to continue that kind of management agency? The private insurance industry, the National Guard, The U.S. Reserves and the private assistance agencies are much more capable of handling any disaster this country will ever experience. I agree with Ron Paul 100%.

    August 28, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. kaneda

    Sean Penn did more than FEMA. 🙂

    August 28, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Bob

    I have done work with both the US Army Corps of Engineers and with FEMA. FEMA was created in an effort to increase effeciency after Hurricane Andrew but it's only added an extra level of burocracy... and at tremendous cost. The politicians did that so they could make it seem as if they were doing something to improve things and, thereby, deflect some criticism. The people in FEMA love it because it's a great government career, but it's not necessary and has not done any better than the Corps of Engineers would have done.

    August 28, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Joe

    Do we really need the Federal Government to take care of every aspect of our lives? I think it is time for people, communities, and states to become self-reliant. What is good for Alaska may not be the same for South Florida.

    August 28, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Russ

    Ron Paul is the ONLY person in DC right now with any sense of reality.

    August 28, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. clickron

    I watched an SNL clip last, Old Glory Insurance company insuring seniors against robot attacks. This is FEMA, collect the money for next to nothing coverage.

    August 28, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. USwatcher

    My my my...we all heard about poor federal response to we hear that Ron doesnt need FEMA...well guess what? most Americans dont need Ron.

    August 28, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Young Liberty

    FEMA is only a couple of years old. What did we do before? (And BTW, I'm sick of people saying that the constitution is out of date and that times have changed. So, we don't need freedom of speech because times have changed? We don't need the 4th ammendment because times have changed? We don't need Habeas Corpus because times have changed? We don't need property rights because times have changed? We don't need liberty? YOU STAND CORRECTED. Never in the history of our country have we needed adherence to the constitution. Look at our unsustainable federal debt. They are bankrupting us...they are not helping us. And if this trend of justifying extreme federal spending continues, then we will see riots in the street, just like London right now)

    August 28, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. jrc

    All these people agreeing with Paul don't have a clue. Paul has money to rebuild. He has it made and you people buy his crap. He lives on the Gulf Coast, yeah, I bet he doesn't flood either. All this crazy talk about small government. Small government is broke. You rely on small government and see where it lands you...with an excuse not to help. Sit on your high horse and fall believing in that logic.

    August 28, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. conandoyle

    One expects Paul to spew nonsense, but the interesting thing here is the strange thing the dog did in the night. Where are the OTHER Republicans disclaiming Paul's nonsense – even if it is only for the purpose of keeping their own credibility? Or do they agree with him?

    August 28, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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