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. CF

    I love the people acting as if not having FEMA around somehow means that state governments won't prepare for disasters.

    August 28, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Rick

    Too bad. Mr. Paul makes a lot of sense on some issues but very very little on others. I guess to be in the GOP you really do have to be an extremist these days.

    August 28, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. paulbark

    Send this senile old man home. Typical Republican approach. Do a poor job running a government agency (e.g. Bush with FEMA) and then say we don't need the agency.

    What we don't need are GOP members of Congress or as our president. They're fine as outsiders. They're good at getting elected. But, they don't know how to govern.

    August 28, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. olepi

    It is comments like this from Ron Paul that cement the fact that the United States is not a Christian country.

    August 28, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. tsb610

    Ron Paul may not need FEMA, but thousands of Americans do. What an idiotic statement to make as Hurricane Irene smashed into the Eastern Seaboard!! Look at the damage caused! This guy wants to the be the President of the United States??

    August 28, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. Mikki

    No where in this article does Ron Paul say "we dont need FEMA".....what he is saying is its being run wrong and they are too overreaching when they do try and help.

    August 28, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Robert the Brave

    And if you think Perry will be better than Paul? Rick Perry was Al Gore's campaign manager, nuff said...

    August 28, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Joe

    It's pretty sad how us Americans and people in this thread feel that we MUST have the government there to hold our hands, change our diapers and wipe our real ends for anything and everything. The state sponsored media will have you believe that you can't survive without the government pushing you around in your stroller.

    This country was founded on independence not a big government nanny state. I happen to believe that the American people are powerful and can take care of themselves.

    The more the government gets into your life, the worse life will be. Period. Geez, wake up people and see how much power you have inside you and stop looking to external sources to "take care of you".

    August 28, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. TommyO

    The Largest disaster relief effort in American history wasn’t Katrina or the 9/11 trade towers it was the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire with damages equivalent to $5.73 billion in 2010 dollars . Immediately after the dust settled the stricken Northern California community began relief efforts combined with state and federal (U.S. Army). Corporations and tycoons donated money (about 100K each – big money for their time) and the U.S. Congress came up with one million dollars to help. It was the insurance companies’ worst nightmare and took years to settle claims and rebuild, but people did the best they could.

    My point being that in that day when high-tech was considered: the telegraph, steam locomotive and horse drawn wagons, the relief efforts to get people: food; WATER; medical attention; blankets and tents etc. looked flawless compared to the FEMA coordinated Katrina debacle!

    FEMA is just another blood sucking leech draining the American people dry! Ron Paul is completely in bounds to critique FEMA based upon their track record – which speaks for itself! “EVERYONE GO TO THE SUPER DOME – THERE WILL BE WATER AND FOOD – I REPEAT THERE WILL BE WATER AND FOOD…yeah. right…we all know how that worked

    August 28, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. Root and stem

    We need FEMA to assist the half-wits (i.e. Obama voters) who do not have the common sense to take care of themselves.

    August 28, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. Article I Section 8

    Houston is a planning nightmare. If anything we should stop funding these gulf coast liabilities. Instead Texas wants it both ways. They want the handout but no oversight or learning from past mistakes.

    August 28, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. dgone

    Most of the comments I see here bashing Ron Paul are ad hominem attacks and don't actually address the points he made. His point is that the federal government is not a magic bullet to problems, in fact, it's far from it and often burdens disaster relief. He's not saying that people and communities stricken by natural disasters shouldn't get aid. But rather that private citizens, private organizations, and local governments are better able to provide aid. I wish people on both the left and right would realize that the real danger isn't in libertarians like Ron Paul, but the big government politicians, such as Bush and Obama who advance a culture of dependency instead of self-reliance.

    August 28, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. munkittrick

    Ron Paul is RIGHT! FEMA is not even a body capable of bearing a singular "emergency" let alone multiple emergencies. This is Earth....we have weather, we have shortages, we have death, famine, disease, terrorism, murder, accidents and SO, SO many other things that we cannot control any better with a body unskilled and incapable of doing what it's mandated to do, than we can on our own. FEMA is an inner-tube as our country goes over the raging waterfall. FEMA is a bandaid on a gash in our aorta

    August 28, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. skarphace

    Abolishing FEMA is not the answer. If it is ineffective and costly during downtimes, then streamline it. Have FEMA be an oversight/backup entity (like FUTA), and give the states the control over the implementation (like SUTA). Call it SEMA.

    Can we improve FEMA? Yes. Should we abolish it? Heck no.

    August 28, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Michael

    FEMA got some pretty good marks in the 1990s. According to at least a couple of Florida National Guard folks I worked with (who were also affected by 1990s hurricanes), Jeb Bush said Florida could have handled things without the feds – they laughed at that, saying without FEMA, things would have really been a mess.

    FEMA lost a lot of good people in 2001 and onwards when it was absorbed into DHS. Read the WaPo series on FEMA of that time. Even Brownie admits this (as an excuse, although one with some truth to it). People's memories are so short, they cannot remember the pre-GWB FEMA and what it did.

    One other thing to consider is that Haley Barbour, Bobby Jindal and a few other southern governors said several times how they didn't want federal stimulus money or any federal oversight of federal program dollars. They sure scream if their farm subsidies, FEMA emergency money, BP oil spill money, et al, doesn't comefast enough, though.

    August 28, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. Anthony in Maryland

    Can't have it both ways America! When the storms come you want government to give you a loan when the storms destroy your homes and yet you are the first ones calling the country "Socialist" when the need is going to someone else. Ron Paul knows he will NEVER be President and he ought to stop wasting time and pull out of the race to save himself more embarassment.

    August 28, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. PhD

    While we are at cutting FEMA, lets also cut Police department, Fire fighters and TSA too. We will save lot of money.

    August 28, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. Kay

    FEMA has nothing whatever to do with keeping you safe in an emergency. That is for local and state governments to do–if they need help from the feds, it's up to them to ask for it and to ask the president to declare a state of emergency. Under federal law, FEMA can't just waltz in and take over. Basically, FEMA is just the place local and state governments send the bills to. Some of you sound like you expect FEMA to have all the answers and to be on the ground at the slightest sign of trouble, but it doesn't work that way.

    August 28, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. Kay

    @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.

    Ask your governor where the $3 billion went.

    August 28, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. abby

    Ron Paul seems to hate the federal gov't and doesn't seem to accept its vital role in this nation - maybe he doesn't need to be in public office....

    August 28, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. snake

    ron paul is against a wasteful beauracurcy that wastes billions and provides very little aid to those that need help. all FEMA does is create more debt. maybe the gov thinks we need the

    August 28, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. john

    Read the firat 20 or so posts than scrolled down to bottom. Lets see.....put in hand of the states and give them money. I say we put in hands of states and let them find their own money. Needs to be more professionalism in the agency and less politics.

    August 28, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Becca

    I think that when FEMA is needed they are not always there from what I have read. SO all I can say is maybe do away with it but not the money. Give each state whne in need the money from the fema fund and let them deal with taking care of what they need. ALso let the national guard that goes in for that state use some of the states FEMA money to take in the supplies they need at that state. SO have a national fund that if a state needs anything from it due to damages they can get it. And get rid of all those FEMA people who do not know their butt from a hole in the ground. I felt Sorry for all those people in New Orleans that had to wait for days for food and water. That was awful!

    August 28, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Jesse Hamm

    The states can keep up with the disasters without the federal government being involved. All he is saying is that it shouldnt be a federal program, it should be a state program. People in other states can also donate to disaster relief without the federal government being involved. People draw conclusions before they even read the first sentence.

    August 28, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  25. Jonathan

    I live in the middle of a city and have yet to be mugged. Maybe those police things they have wandering around simply aren't necessary. And for that matter, what do I need these smoke detectors for? I've never been killed in a fire!

    August 28, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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