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Axe FEMA, Romney Says — as Sandy Looms

Axe FEMA, Romney Says — as Sandy Looms

Hurricane Sandy threatens to be one of the most devastating storms ever to strike the United States. But if Mitt Romney were president, disaster relief would be up to the states.

Stands behind “disband FEMA” comment

The Romney campaign said early Monday morning that Romney stood behind a statement first made during a 2011 Republican debate, in which Romney said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be disbanded, and its powers either privatized or given to the states.

“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,” said Romney in 2011. Asked by debate moderator John King if that included cutting disaster relief, Romney said, “We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids.”

Given the chance to back away from the statement, the Romney campaign instead told the Huffington Post that Romney meant what he said.

“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,” the campaign said.

Sandy Could Impact Fourteen States

Romney’s paean to states’ rights ignores the very important role of FEMA in coordinating disaster relief in events that transcend state boundaries. Hurricane Sandy is expected to impact fourteen states and the District of Columbia; its impact stretches from Maine to North Carolina, and from West Virginia to Massachusetts.

Furthermore, FEMA manages disasters on scales beyond the capacity of states to manage them. Hurricane Katrina did over $100 billion in damage to Louisiana in 2005. The entire annual budget for the state is about $25 billion. Simply, states that are hit by devastating natural disasters are usually in no position to manage the crisis by themselves.

As for Romney’s suggestion that disaster relief could be privatized, it’s almost impossible to conceive of a way that would be possible. Disasters generally require a huge outlay of funds to help wounded communities get back on their feet. Some of that is covered by private insurance, but much of it is not — especially the immediate response to the crisis.

Republicans Have Targeted Disaster Aid Before

It’s not surprising that Romney has opposed federal spending on disaster aid. His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has proposed a budget that would require drastic cuts to federal aid programs, including FEMA.

Ryan is not alone. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., initially argued that disaster aid in the wake of Hurricane Irene should be offset by spending cuts, though he was later forced to walk that back after public outrage. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has also called for the elimination of FEMA.

The targeting of disaster aid is part and parcel of the current Republican mentality. More and more, the Republican party is pushing a worldview that says, in effect, that we’re all on our own. In times of crisis, if you can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps then you’ll just have to stay down on the ground.

FEMA has an imperfect track record, of course — its response to Hurricane Katrina was woefully inadequate. That error, though, was not one of doing too much, but doing too little. Under the Obama administration, FEMA has generally earned plaudits, especially for its response to an outbreak of tornadoes in the south and midwest. When supported adequately, FEMA has been a vital and valuable agency that has provided aid to states in the wake of disasters across the country.

In many ways, Mitt Romney’s opposition to federal disaster relief programs is what the election is about. President Barack Obama supports using government to help those in a crisis get back on their feet. Mitt Romney believes that government has no role in helping people who are dealing with disaster. Those two very different views of America’s future are on the ballot next week.

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Image Credit: North Carolina Department of Transportation

 

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170 comments

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12:29AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

The only thing that scares me worse then Rmoney as president is if the God on his special Mormon planet calls him home and we get Ryan as president.

Romney stated that the Federal government helping states in disasters is immoral. He is immoral!

8:34AM PDT on Nov 3, 2012

Romney is the worst and least qualified presidential candidate EVER! He is only interested in winning to "be the President", a notch in his belt. It is an ego trip for him, and it will be a trip to hell for the USA if he's elected.
God damn Romney and Ryan!
God Bless PresidentObama!

2:08PM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

The stupidity literally oozes from the gaping slack-jawed mouths of Romney and his feral little lemmings, like David F.

David F. is continually off-target with his biased and one-sided rants, no surprise there....but more to the point, where is Romney now, after Sandy has hit us all, clamouring for the demise and privatization of FEMA? What a whiney little political squirrel he is.

Makes you wonder why Romney's failing Olympic committee agreed to be bailed out with federal funds, and why he didn't go instead to the private sector for salvation......? H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y

6:10AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

Dorothy N., thank you for your post.

3:49AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

David F - Romney hasn't made billions for the poor. My word dude; what you talkin' bout? That's one of the really hilarious statements you've made. He's out-sourced jobs to China and yet in the debates with Obama, he talks like "we gotta crack down on China cause they're manipulating currency." China is one of the worst countries for worker oppression and humans rights, and of course Romney wouldn't mention that because he's in cahoots with the 'red' government. Anything with red on it, Romney loves.
Has anyone noticed Romney's weird little walk? CNN just played a clip of him walking across a stage at one his rallies. I don't know whether it's his magic underwear causing the problem, but unlike Obama confident stride, Romney takes mincing little steps....could it be???

3:37AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

(continued)

Romney's shown himself to be an unendingly selfish, greedy psychopathic criminal - no ethics, empathy or survival sense, too-often utterly destroying whatever/whomever he squeezes for an endless more of personal wealth.

Can you imagine what he'd do, as President, not only to America but the world, even without his proven 'loose cannon' propensity?

3:24AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

(continued)

On October 4 Mattel disclosed that The Learning Company had incurred millions in product returns and bad debt write-offs and that the TLC division of Mattel would incur a $50-$100 million loss rather than the large profit that had been forecast previously.

Mattel, whose stock had traded as high as $27.23 when the TLC merger was completed, at $24.14 on June 25 (the date upon which Romney's ownership is documented and worth estimated), closed at $11.69 on October 4.

This story seems similar to other Bain-related stories: Ownership/control is acquired and is used to extract money from the business, which may then be loaded down with debt:

In four of the seven Bain-owned companies that went bankrupt, Bain investors also profited, amassing more than $400 million in gains before the companies ran aground, The Times found. All four, however, later became mired in debt incurred, at least in part, to repay Bain investors or to carry out a Bain-led acquisition strategy. ...

... The implications of this part of Romney's Olympic experience are very important. Rather than saving the US economy by using his expertise, a President Romney would be far more likely to use the position to personally profiteer, similar to Dick Cheney and Karl Rove More on Rove here.

Not good. Not good at all.



Romney's shown himself to be an unendingly selfish, greedy psychopathic criminal - no ethics, empathy or survival sense, too-often utterly des

3:16AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

(continued)

Romney profiteered as CEO of the Olympics
There seems to have been a lot of profiteering at the Salt Lake Olympics. Sports Illustrated did a major story called Snow Job documenting much of the graft and profiteering that took place. A recent Mother Jones piece referred to it as Mitt Romney's Pork Barrel Olympics. Senator John McCain also thought a lot of unnecessary pork-barrel spending took place...

... The Mattel story has a lot of disturbing overtones about profiteering. Romney was on the board of The Learning Company. He seems to have used this to gain an ownership stake in Mattel when Mattel bought TLC. Romney negotiated a contract for Mattel with the Olympics. Romney seems to have not informed Mattel that TLC was in financial difficulty before it was bought by Mattel:

Romney may have parlayed a $23m investment and seat on the board of troubled software firm The Learning Company (TLC) into an ownership stake in Mattel, Inc. worth as much as $100,000,000 as of June, 1999.

On September 25 of that year, Romney, in his role as CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee, stood before the world to announce that the SLOC had signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Mattel for the production of stuffed-animal representations of the Olympic mascots.

Romney made no mention of his personal ownership interest in Mattel. Less than two weeks later, Mattel made a bombshell announcement.

On October 4 Mattel dis

3:14AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

(continued)

Many other sponsors had extensive business dealings with Bain Capital companies, or had top-ranking executives with past connections to Bain Capital companies. And most of them have come through for Romney again, by donating to his campaign. ...

... But, even if Mitt Romney were no longer at Bain, there are companies that he sat on the board of, and/or benefitted from financially, while they were doing business with the Olympics. Staples and Marriot both listed Romney as being on their board of directors. Romney also negotiated for Domino's Pizza, coincidentally also owned by Bain, to get a catering contract. Romney also owned stock in Mattel. As documented here, Romney managed to get shares of Mattel and then negotiated an Olympics deal for them.

Romney did business with all of these companies and vis a vis his position as partial owner and/or a member of their boards of directors, stood to make money from the deals that were made. Besides being unethical, there seems to be no universe in which these activities would not violate the specific aforementioned agreement that Romney would sever his ties to corporations that did business with the Olympics. These activities seem to plainly be a breach of contract by Mitt Romney.

Romney profiteered as CEO of the Olympics
There seems to have been a lot of profiteering at the Salt Lake Olympics. Sports Illustrated did a major story called Snow Job documenting much of the graft and profiteering that took

3:09AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

(continued)

In Turnaround, his 2004 book about his Olympics experience, Romney tells of the deal he offered to his friend Thomas Stemberg, founder and then-CEO of Staples, for that company’s sponsorship: his Olympics staff “would get to work lobbying SLOC board members and other corporate contacts to switch their office-supply contracts to Staples.”

...Utah billionaire Jon M. Huntsman ponied up a cool million dollars to the Olympics — and in July 2001, Bain Capital invested roughly a quarter-billion dollars in Huntsman’s international-holdings company. Huntsman is now a national finance co-chair for Romney’s presidential campaign.

Gateway, too, signed on as a sponsor; in September 2001, it made an agreement for unpaid consulting services from Bain Capital, in exchange for certain underwriting opportunities.

Others of the final tally of 53 corporate sponsors were already under Romney and Bain Capital’s influence. Marriott is led by close family friends — now campaign finance co-chairs; plus, Romney was sitting on the company’s board at the time. Sealy, which Bain Capital owned, became a sponsor. So did Monster.com, where one of Romney’s sons worked as a consultant. The vice-chair of General Motors was on Marriott’s board of directors with Romney, as were the directors of Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Sears; all became sponsors. Many other sponsors had extensive business dealings with Bain Capital companies, or had

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