Calm before the storm
Despite Romney’s intentions, FEMA needs to remain part of national funding
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) might have to lose the “federal” from its name if Mitt Romney gets elected.
The organization – known for preparing for national disasters, deciding where rescuers and supplies go and determining how survivors should be assisted – might receive major cuts in the next few years depending on who gets the top seat in the executive branch.
Multiple news sources went back into their archives this week to last year’s GOP debate, where Mitt Romney was questioned about his intent to cut federal programs including FEMA. He said: “it is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids.” He also mentioned it would be better if we sent all responsibilities of the federal government, including the tasks of FEMA, to the private sector.
Fast forward to Oct. 2012 and the nation’s East Coast is underwater. Yet on Sunday, a Romney official reaffirmed the former governor’s position, stating: “Gov. Romney wants to ensure states, who are the first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities, have the resources and assistance they need to cope with natural disasters.”
Cars are floating on the streets of New York, and Romney still wants to privatize disaster response.
Some things must be left to the states rather than Washington; emergency response to disaster is not one of them.
With deregulation of FEMA, we would essentially have 50 individual centers of natural disaster aid. Imagine Hurricane Sandy with FEMA under solely state aid. Sandy leaves NYC with its disaster, but the rest of the state can’t help it because it’s too worried about its own planning and preparation.
Sandy has directly affected at least 13 states so far.
It affects a large portion of our landscape, and the effect reaches even further with families and friends in different cities, states and countries. It takes away the hands from other states if you leave the power to the states on this one. Even with the tremendous help of FEMA, the affected states will need as much help from the unaffected states as they can spare.
Something the national government has learned from agencies like FEMA is how to approach the situation, which has taken years of past mistakes and experiences. After the disaster incurred by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which was the most obvious example of poor federal and state coordination and even poorer management, it would be fair to expect a better disaster response with Sandy. Instead, it seems the GOP plans to take the power out of the National Response Coordination Center (again, national) and its major branch, FEMA.
It’s unthinkable that any state might not get the help it needs from its government in a time when it needs it most. It’s questionable if Romney understands there are actual people involved – the same people he’s worried about protecting the future for – considering he wants to deregulate something that could help them.
It’s worrisome that Romney keeps getting all these little tests, such as the attacks on Benghazi and now Sandy, to see what he will do if he is in charge. Have his answers – answers that are poorly timed – to these tests been sufficient?
Romney is a man who is all about business, willing to make some sacrifices and to shift some numbers around. But he has yet to figure out how to take his broad plans and apply them to actual instances. Cutting aid to FEMA is something that affects the people he’s asking to vote for him, the people he's asking to trust him with their country and lives.