November 1st, 2012
09:42 PM ET
10 years ago

Rand Paul: FEMA is 'inefficient'

(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky held firm on his stance Thursday that local government provides better service when disaster strikes than the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This summer, the Republican senator made headlines when he held up a bill re-authorizing the National Flood Insurance Program by attaching a non-related "personhood" amendment that called for defining life as beginning at conception.

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Asked why he worked to stall the flood bill, Paul said the government was spending too much money it didn't have.

"I have always maintained that FEMA should exist on money that comes in as revenue, but not on borrowed money," the fiscal conservative said Thursday on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

Paul, a longtime critic of the agency, argued the U.S. should instead fund FEMA with the money it sends overseas in foreign aid. He also argued that local communities - as well as private groups such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross - do a better job than federal agencies in the immediate aftermath of large-scale emergencies.

The Republican senator shared a story about the local response in cities devastated by tornadoes earlier this year in Kentucky, saying "the churches stepped up."

"Two thousand responders a day were being fed by churches, and the people were being put up in houses," he said. "So I don't think this is entirely a government response. I think it's important to really laud the private folks, as well as the churches who step up."

While he maintained "government is inefficient" in major disasters, he added, "I'm not saying government doesn't have a role."

Paul also weighed in on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's unexpected endorsement Thursday for President Barack Obama. The senator said he wasn't surprised by the mayor's support.

"I don't think many thought that Nanny Bloomberg was going to be endorsing a Republican any time soon," he said.

Paul added: "We can't even get a decent size Coke to drink in New York City anymore, so no I don't think that his proclivities or his sort of sense of philosophy really is Republican much at all."

Now an independent, Bloomberg served his first two mayoral terms as a Republican. Before that he identified himself as a Democrat. Bloomberg remained neutral in the 2008 presidential election.

Citing Superstorm Sandy, which left much of his city underwater and powerless, the three-term mayor wrote in an op-ed on his website Thursday that he favored Obama's views over those of Mitt Romney on the issue of climate change, which, he said, "may or may not" have been a factor in this week's massive storm.

Bloomberg has faced pushback from Republicans in recent months after spearheading an effort to ban the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces in restaurants and other venues. The New York City Board of Health approved the measure in September.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • FEMA • Michael Bloomberg • New York • President Obama • Rand Paul
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    Has Rand Paul been watching any news? You know FEMA is doing well when a staunch Romney supporter has nothing but praise for a Democratic opponent. Additionally, with a lot of New Jersey underwater, and state workers worried about their own families and homes and lives, how does he expect local workers to provide immediate disaster relief? Especially if he's on board with cutting their pay and benefits? Rand Paul should stop trying to be relevant and crawl back into his hole.

    November 2, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  2. bp

    I'm really looking forward to this fool (who wouldn't be where he is today unless he had his father's name) running for President in 2016 and getting humiliated.

    November 2, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  3. aaron

    Guess nobody told him that the main purpose of flood insurance was to make sure that the rich people's houses on barrier islands get rebuilt after the inevitable hurricanes. Doubt if he's be so flippant about it if he knew it was for the benefit of rich people, not the average taxpayer.

    November 2, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  4. Wilkenson

    Churches don't have responders to rescue any potential drowing victim.

    November 2, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  5. Observer

    Let's see, centralized agency that can work with multiple state government at the same time, yes very inefficient. Just another tool in the republican shed, stop talking Paul your stupidity is showing.

    November 2, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  6. MadGOPer

    50 Squabbling states is very inefficient....... Rand Paul is clueless....

    November 2, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  7. ***

    i don't think charity is a plan.

    November 2, 2012 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  8. MaryM

    Lyin Ryan, the fool for fools

    November 2, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  9. fernace

    Rand Paul, son of "no insurance, let them die" Ron Paul, is named after Ayn Rand, the 1% queen! The extremist portion of the Romney/Ryan & GOT-Party agenda becomes clearer as we approach popular voting! FEMA is actually as efficient as the President! In the case of Katrina, not so much; in the case of Sandy Obama was right there, helping & urging fed gov to provide speedy relief! What is Rand talking about when he says "government"? Aren't city & state governments? What do any of these "anti-government" fools mean when they say we need less government, except that they're basically talking themselves out of a job! Fine by me! Except they don't mean Their Own positions, of course! The less 1% protectors in our government, the better off we'll all be! Latah for u, Rand! Obama/Biden, Next Tuesday!!

    November 2, 2012 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  10. D. Tree

    Does this moron understand that's the equivalent of saying "New Jersey, good luck your on you own"?

    How can anyone really think that localities can deal with – and recover from – major disasters like this?

    November 2, 2012 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  11. waukone

    so many of those non-profits have billions of dollars of equipment and assets and logistical support of trucks and trailers to move them in an emergency. Not to mention the kind of technical support needed to do say "move 40 billion galls of water in the tunnels".

    What an idiot. Republicans do you really want these people helping you after a disaster. Obama isn't perfect but these guys are idiots.

    November 2, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  12. Name

    Wow. As an independent, I used to think Ron Paul's ideas were intriguing. Rand sounds like a jerk/nut. No pres bid for him.

    November 2, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    If he wants to argue that overseas aid funding as an amendment to the FEMA bill thats almost Ok for me at least there is some connection.
    His next point about 200o first responders is miniscule c/f what was needed re Katrina and Sandy and the red cross and churches will respond and did in Katrina areas and NJ/NY.
    The real point is it is the scope and size of any natural disaster that needs a national response otherwise the cost burden to a specific state means tax increases or unsustainable extra borrowing.
    He gets away with the comment "government response" but in context you can read that both ways I.e state government only or federal government there independently or together with local government.
    To put a personhood amendment to a disater bill just for the purpose of delaying or stopping it is the kind of gridlock that would make me go out on the streets big time campaigning to get this idiot out of politics. I f I were in Tibet or Tunisia I might just decide to set myself on fire in protest at that kind of pure politiking... gridlock for the sake of gridlock.
    Maybe we need to have rules that say amendment legislation has to amend specific clauses of the original only for specific reasons. Not introduce non related topics. Introduce a personhood bill on the same rules. such a rule may go a long way to limiting pork as well.

    November 2, 2012 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  14. Robert

    We've only had FEMA since 1979. The idea that everyone died in the past w/out the magic of FEMA is just ridiculous. The Feds and military can help to facilitate things for the local folks-cutting red tape, but this is such a fallacy to believe a FEMA helicopter is going to save doesn't work.

    November 2, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  15. KWill

    Do people genuinely not remember just how badly Louisiana and New Orleans handled the Katrina catastrophe?

    November 2, 2012 04:36 am at 4:36 am |
  16. Don

    Keep talkin Randy

    November 2, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |

    Time to sweep the unhinged GOBP tea potty out of the government that they hate so much.

    November 2, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  18. the situation

    It's so funny how the Rethugs are crying how FEMA is no use by the Federal Government. You see when a disaster happens and you have the Federal Government organized, doing there job in helping the State Office and Cities, you will get results. Unlike the man that the Rethugs are hiding, Dubya, when you are not organized, you see what happen like in Orleans!

    November 2, 2012 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  19. Dave

    Why do people actually listen to this blithering idiot?

    November 2, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  20. onlyfacts

    No Rand your brain is inefficient.

    November 2, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
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