s a "severely conservative" Republican primary candidate, Mitt Romney said he would consider shuttering the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is currently bracing for the fallout from Hurricane Sandy, aka the Frankenstorm. When asked how he would fund FEMA as president, Romney responded that "every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better." When asked specifically about disaster relief, Romney said that "we cannot afford to do these things without jeopardizing the future or our kids," and that it is "simply immoral" to "rack up larger and larger debts." (Watch the video below.) Liberals are sure that Romney will come to rue those words. Will he?
Yes. Federal aid is essential for disaster relief: "Totally devolving responsibility for emergency management and disaster relief to the states, much less the private sector, is a notion only a stone ideologue would embrace," says Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly. "The feds don't always do the best job in these situations, but suggesting they are none of the national government's business is the kind of policy that might have even given Barry Goldwater pause."
"You're on your own when disaster strikes"
But Romney wouldn't really shutter FEMA: "Many things that Romney said back during his severely conservative period I have little doubt are what he really believes," says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. This statement, on the other hand, is "so nonsensical that I'd chalk it up more to his penchant for pandering and lack of character." That, however, is a "difficult excuse for Romney to use on his behalf."
"Did Mitt say he'd shut down FEMA"
Clearly, a Romney presidency would be horrible for disaster aid: Romney has gone on record demanding "that the federal government only disburse disaster relief funding if Congress agreed to offsetting budget cuts elsewhere," says Scott Keyes at Think Progress. A Romney presidency could very well "hold desperately-needed disaster relief funding hostage unless Congress agreed to cuts elsewhere in the budget, an extraordinarily difficult prospect even in normal circumstances." And remember, Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, has long championed tying emergency aid to budget cuts.
"How Romney and Ryan would severely impair disaster relief efforts"
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