As Hurricane Irene struck this weekend, libertarian congressman and GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul took the opportunity to repeat his call to phase out FEMA, which spearheads the response to such storms. Paul says the Federal Emergency Management Agency spends money the government doesn't have, obstructs local recovery efforts, and encourages people to build in danger zones by assuring them a bailout if things go bad. Will Paul's timing hurt his campaign, or is he making a good point?
Phasing out FEMA is crazy: The Texas libertarian's offensive and "absurd rhetoric" is flat wrong, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. "Cash-strapped states barely have the resources for schools and law enforcement," so it's ridiculous to suggest they can respond to natural disasters and rebuild on their own, "without any federal role whatsoever." Paul claims FEMA is a failure at what it does — that might have been true when George W. Bush met Hurricane Katrina, but "under Obama, FEMA's doing great and responding quickly."
"Ron Paul doubles down, rejects FEMA"
But FEMA is an example of what's wrong with Big Government: It's the people laughing at Ron Paul who are "insane," says Bill Anderson at The LRC Blog. As Paul points out, FEMA has only existed since 1979; before that, communities recovered relatively quickly from natural disasters because they didn't have to "wait for FEMA to tell them what to do." FEMA is just an "idiocracy" created to "expand the power of the state at the expense of individuals."
"Ron Paul and FEMA"
Right or wrong, at least Paul is consistent: With storm winds blowing, Ron Paul had the "perfect opportunity" to bend his small-government libertarianism just a little, says Alex Moore at Death + Taxes, and "allow that maybe some federal disaster relief is a good thing." Instead "Paul spat in the face of the storm" and refused to budge. Politically, that's suicidal. But "you have to respect the guy's style."
"Ron Paul goes full maverick, calls for end of FEMA on eve of Hurricane Irene"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- Will Kobani be ISIS's Waterloo?
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- 10 things you need to know today: October 21, 2014
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
Subscribe to the Week