Texas Congressman Ron Paul was on Fox News Sunday today with Chris Wallace to discuss the race and his path moving toward the nomination. With Hurricane Irene storming up the east coast this weekend, the question of emergency management was a hot topic and, as expect, Paul had some strong opinons on the role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and whether it is effective.
Report from Fox News:
Even before Hurricane Irene hit the U.S. East Coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was preparing to mitigate its devastating impact, spending from its $800 million relief fund to assist communities.
But the real disaster may just be the agency itself, Rep. Ron Paul said Sunday.
The Republican presidential candidate, who represents the 14th Congressional District that runs partly along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, argued that the temporary aid provided by FEMA has helped ruin the economy by creating a false dependency.
“FEMA has been around since 1978, it has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever,” Paul said. “It’s a system of bureaucratic central economic planning, which is a policy that is deeply flawed.”
Paul spoke to “Fox News Sunday” shortly after FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate reviewed a series of actions in response to Hurricane Irene taken on the orders of President Obama. Combined with other recent natural disasters, Fugate said the agency has enough in its immediate bank account to respond to communities seeking help, but how much will be needed afterward is unknown.
“How much damages and recovery and building costs will determine how much funds we’re going to need, and we won’t know that until we actually get out and see some of the damages, and get some of the damage assessment,” Fugate said. “But for the response piece, we do have the funds there to go and we are committing those resources even as Irene continues to move up the coast.”
Paul is generally correct on FEMA though I’d wager that would be a hot topic at the next GOP debate. Some candidates would likely argue that a federal agency is needed to coordinate disasters and a lot of people would generally agree. However, on principle, many candidates like Paul who oppose federal subsidizing of risk will win favor with some GOP primary voters looking to shrink the footprint of government.
I’d look forward to hearing a discussion on this topic at the September 7th debate. Granted, it isn’t the hot topic of the economy so maybe they won’t spend much time on it, if any.