This morning, nearly 2 million people are without power and nine are dead as now-Tropical Storm Irene continues to devastate the East Coast. But Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) still thinks that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) needs to be abolished. In a lengthy anti-FEMA screed to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Paul described FEMA as a drain on the economy — a “gross distortion of insurance” that only “bleeding hearts” would support — that “just bail[s] put everybody”:
WALLACE: Congressman, you would really, at this point, do away with FEMA and all the things it’s doing to help hundreds of thousands of people along the East Coast?
PAUL: (Laughs.) Have you ever read the reports that came out of New Orleans and all those wonderful things they did? Giving checks to people who didn’t even live there? Sending in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trailers that they had to junk because they didn’t meet FEMA’s standards? No. It’s a system of bureaucratic central economic planning which is a policy which is deeply flawed. So no, you don’t get rid of something like that in one day. … I mean, this idea that government can just bail out everybody and vote for money — but I propose that we save a billion dollars from the overseas war-mongering, bring half that home and put it against the deficit, and yes, tide people over until we come to our senses and realize that FEMA’s been around since 1978. It has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever. … You can’t imagine how many calls we get because FEMA’s getting in the way and they can’t get their checks, they can’t get their bailouts. … Anybody who wants to defend this department and this agency, they have a tough argument to argue for.
Paul has long been a critic of FEMA and voted against hurricane relief funding for his home state of Texas in 2005. He previously has said that FEMA “compounds our problems” because the government shouldn’t “take care of us when we do dumb things” — like get hit by hurricanes.