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. Kate in NJ

    Ron Paul is consistent at least – he has no use for helping others. He is only in Washington to stop everyone else from taking a dime from him. If you happen to be old, sick, poor, disabled, just suck it up and deal with it or get out of his way, because there is no sense of compassion. If you feel there is a benefit to banding together to help each other, or if you like to have a sense of safety and security by having programs in place, then you are the enemy.
    Ron Paul still thinks we should live like the old west, protecting our 40 acres and a mule with an arsenal and keeping out any dang government revenuers. He was born in the wrong millenium.

    August 28, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. scott

    Great job Ron Paul. FEMA is a disaster. Too much red tape. Just like in Katrina. People are waiting and they are just not showing up. Vote Ron Paul and get rid of FEMA...

    August 28, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Bharat Chandrasekhar

    Paul makes a great argument about such a program destroys the idea of insurance. Insurance is meant to cover risk, however, when such a program is "free" (taxpayer paid), it invites people to live wherever they want and basically subsidizes people to make bad decisions. In addition, FEMA, like most government programs, is a bureaucratic mess. They tell people what to do but really make terrible decisions and end up inhibiting a proper recovery.

    August 28, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. Paul

    Ron Paul is so right. FEMA is the "let's pat each other on the back for nothing" foundation.

    August 28, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. Annie, Atlanta

    rick jolie, you realize the states are broke, right – all but ND.

    August 28, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. Mark C.

    Local and State governments can't afford disasters. They are reimbursed HEAVILY for declared disasters. Sure, it would be great if there was millions of more $$$ for the Federal government to spend money on (hopefully paying off the country's debt), but the local and State governments would be limited in their capabilities and even big businesses would feel the pains of picking up the slack. Before long, people would pretty much be on their own, which would send more and more people below the poverty line.

    August 28, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Nick

    FEMA is a cash cow for those that run FEMA! Ron Paul is only trying to educate the masses that they would be much better off if their money stayed at the local level rather than with the Federal Government. When you have so many middlemen that your paying five to six times the price of everything no wonder we are in so much trouble.

    August 28, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. Marine5484

    We don't need FEMA? Just as soon as it sounds like this guy might make sense he spurts out something like this. Not to mention horrible timing. Restructuring FEMA to make it more efficient is one thing but, to completely get rid of FEMA is just.....stupid.

    August 28, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. Jayson

    I think what a lot of the pro-FEMA people don't really realize is that FEMA is more a money funnel than anything. They are slow to respond to anything, oftentimes their decisions and policies actually hinder efforts on the ground and that it's actually local and state agencies as well as private organizations that do the actual rescuing and recovery. Having a huge national bureau pulling money from localities just to funnel it away kind of seems to defeat the purpose.

    August 28, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. NamCbtVet

    Paul, in is zest for less oversight of complex situations, seems to forget that the Normandy invasion was not directed by a bunch of second lieutenants but by a single four-star (later five-star) general.

    August 28, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. Jim

    FEMA was started as the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, a component of the Department of Defense. FEMA has been funded and heavily supported by a number of REPUBLICAN Ronald Reagan. Check out the funding history. If Ron doesn't think it is important for a federal agency to prepare for and coordinate the federal government's response to the effects of a natural disaster, terrorism event, or nuclear emergency then I don't want to be living here when something goes wrong. Good luck explaining that one to the people big guy! there are a lot of places where the federal government could cut to save money. Letting natural disasters wipe out more of the population is not one of them. Maybe Ron would prefer the results of storms like the 1938 hurricane thousands dead instead of 15. Let's stop using weather radar too. How do Morons like this even make it into a position to run for President? God help us.

    August 28, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. Zee

    People just don't understand. Are you all so helpless that all you can do is depend on Mommy and Daddy government? Paul is right. People don't need a large, faceless, organization that steals money from the public and spits it back out haphazardly and wastefully. People thrived long before The Fed, FEMA, and the DOE and and, I mean "Homeland Security". We can survive without them now. People think Obama stands for hope, change, and all his other useless slogans and lies. This man says what he believes and sticks to it. Check his voting record, it's consistent. The best thing about Ron Paul is he is completely behind people standing up for themselves, and not depending on the government. It's what we need now.

    August 28, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. I've seen it have you?

    I've been to the Texas coast post Ike and there are some very nice modular houses set up as their own neighborhood complete with nicely blacktopped streets. Thanks FEMA!

    And my wife's family got some really nice fat checks in the mail after Rita. Thanks FEMA! Didn't really need them but if your sending out checks then sign me up!

    To Ron P's point – that is bizarre aid.

    August 28, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. Zee

    @Kate from New Jersey

    So people are so helpless and jaded that they CAN'T stand up for themselves and each other? They HAVE to depend on the state to take care of them at the cost of everyone else? There's this thing called the free market, which, contrary to what the mainstream media lies about, would be 10 billion times more efficient and 10 billion times less wasteful than the government has proven time and time again to be. The government has driven us to the point of complete and utter collapse through their spending and useless programs. It's time to face reality, we have to stand on our own two feet and learn to depend on ourselves again. Like it or not, it's going to happen. The sooner we accept it, the better.

    August 28, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. Kirk Letterman

    I'm certain Ron Paul means well. My grandmother meant well too, but she still needed institutionalization due to mental degeneration.

    August 28, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. Daryl

    This is another case of the federal government thinking they know what is best for every single citizen in the U.S. They just need to get out of the way. Let the states handle their own disasters. How do a bunch of bureaucrats know how to handle disasters they've never experienced? Then again, we live in a nanny welfare state where people expect the government to practically run their lives for them. No wonder why there is such backlash against his ideas.

    August 28, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Well Mr. Paul, you want to do away with FEMA, Dept of Education, IRS, Department of Homeland Security, Heath Care, and a lot of other entities. What else do you want to do away with? Eliminating Congress would be the best thing too do since they are horribly wasteful.

    August 28, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. Jean Sartre

    We had a crazy/idiot uncle just like Ron Paul. After getting him medication(s) for well over 5 years and shuffling him from one family to another over this period, we finally came to the realization that he was well beyond any help that any family member or we could provide for him. Therefore, now, he resides in a mental facility – which the family pays for – and it is fully equipped with a padded room for him, a lot more meds and crayons and paper to write to Ron Paul on.

    Judging from what nonsense Ron Paul continues to dish out, it certainly seems as though he is listening quite closely to what my uncle is saying...

    August 28, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  19. Jennifer

    @ Elaine: Do you really think that the Department of Education is fine the way it is? The idea of scrapping the whole department and starting over is not a new idea, nor is it really that extreme. When a department is failing miserably, it's time to scrap them and figure out a better way. Same for FEMA and many other federally run agencies. They all need to be scrapped. The states can do a much better job regulating agencies in their own states, knowing much better what exactly is needed for that individual state. A federal agency doesn't have a clue about the nitty gritty, they are a bandaid solution for gangrene.

    August 28, 2011 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. DKM - NY

    Wonder if MR. RON PAUL would feel this way if HE were one of those 5 million people who lost EVERYTHING in this disaster. It is soooooooooooooo easy for him to say these things...I don't see HIM going to HELP all those who have been affected by today's events...rolling up his sleeves and helping with the cleanup...helping those people who may have lost family members, etc. Let's face it...he's ALL action !!! "Aspiring" politicians such as Ron Paul" – should not take this as an opportunity to get voter support...that's pretty desperate if you ask me.

    August 28, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. DMJ

    I think most of you are missing the point, here. He is not suggesting that people affected by disasters do not need or deserve help, just that the responsibility for organizing and executing the response should be pushed down to the State and local level. Decentralized, minimalist federal intervention, and ulitimately more effective and focused. It's called small government. Big governemnt, alphabet soup agencies are not required to get things done in this country, and there is a pretty good argument that such organizations fly in the face of the orginal intent for our federal government. RON PAUL 2012.

    August 28, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. Tony from Oakland California

    I would say, it's easy to dismiss the importance of FEMA, if you're wealthy/comfortable/affluent like Ron Paul, who makes over $250k per year working for the Government and has benefits/insurance policies in place. Obviously, Ron Paul speaks for people only like himself when challenging the importance of FEMA during disasters. As such, Ron Paul only represents people within his own socio-economic status while forgetting about those who aren't during times of National crisis.....

    August 28, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  23. Tony from Oakland California

    During the middle ages......within a Serf system.....Land Owners had the supplies to recover after disasters......and Peasants, who had no reserve supplies either died or begged for the survival

    August 28, 2011 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  24. Jamie D.

    @Mark C.; The reason state and local governments wouldn't have enough money to put towards disaster relief, is because the juggernaut federal government sucks up all the state's money for 3 wars of aggression, Empire maintenance of 700 overseas bases (which cost 2 BILLION a day), and bloated, inefficient agencies that are of NO help to the people. It costs 2 BILLION dollars a day to maintain our overseas bases. Close em down, bring our troops home to build a STRONG defense, and allow them to spend their pay here, in OUR economy. Then, states would have plenty of money for disaster relief...

    August 28, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  25. cp

    Ron Paul is correct.. the government cant get it right because they are not accountable. give it to private industry . you do a bad job, you get fired. its that simple

    August 28, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
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