NYT burns Romney for saying he’d close FEMA, Ryan for trying to gut it

Republicans are feigning outrage after the New York Times slammed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in an op-ed for saying he’d eliminate FEMA, which provides life-saving aid and equipment to disaster-riddled states.

Right, the “vulture” is the guy who wants to save FEMA, an organization vital to saving lives, rather than the guy who wants to gut it (or the woman who defends him).

As for “wasting no time,” when exactly is the right time to talk about the fact that the man who would-be president in only seven days is a self-serving buffoon who has no sense of the nation’s true priorities, and that his policies would have had a real and deleterious effect on millions of Americans when disaster struck yesterday?  After he’s elected, I’m sure.

And if it makes the NYT editorial board “vultures” for criticizing Romney’s support for abolishing FEMA in the middle of a disaster, what exactly does it make Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan that they broke their promise not to campaign while American lives are still at risk, and even worse, are now holding campaign events wrapped in “storm relief”?

I can think of a few words.

I also thought it rather vulture-esque of Romney to call GOP governors, but not Democratic governors, to offer his world-renowned expertise in hurricane management (he has none), also known as “yet again breaking his promise not to campaign in the middle of the disaster.”  But even worse, treating a national disaster as some of kind of political “opportunity,” or as vultures call it, lunch.

Here’s the NYT:

Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of “big government,” which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it. At a Republican primary debate last year, Mr. Romney was asked whether emergency management was a function that should be returned to the states. He not only agreed, he went further.

“Absolutely,” he said. “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.” Mr. Romney not only believes that states acting independently can handle the response to a vast East Coast storm better than Washington, but that profit-making companies can do an even better job. He said it was “immoral” for the federal government to do all these things if it means increasing the debt.

Mitt couldn’t be any more wrong. While trying to Etch-A-Sketch his way to becoming a “severely conservative” candidate during the GOP presidential primary, Romney neglected to mention that his fellow GOP leaders took the very same federal disaster aid that he claims to want to eliminate.

Hurricane Superstorm Sandy over America

Hurricane Superstorm Sandy over America, via NOAA

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal complained to the federal government that he had not been properly reimbursed for the money his state had spent preparing for a disaster, something not normally covered by FEMA — in other words, Jindal wanted even more federal disaster aid. And while battling crippling wildfires in his state, Texas Governor Rick Perry complained to President Obama that he had not received as much aid as the state of Alabama.

So much for condemning sucking on the government teat.

Even GOP Golden Boy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, had nothing but praise for Obama and FEMA during Hurricane Sandy preparation,  calling the President’s response to the disaster “outstanding,” and saying that he “appreciated the president’s outreach today in making sure that we know he’s watching this and is concerned about the health and welfare and safety of the people of the state of New Jersey.”

These Republican leaders may be disappointed to know that their nominee has pledge to eliminate FEMA funding, leaving cash-strapped states on their own during disasters:

Over the last two years, Congressional Republicans have forced a 43 percent reduction in the primary FEMA grants that pay for disaster preparedness. Representatives Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and other House Republicans have repeatedly tried to refuse FEMA’s budget requests when disasters are more expensive than predicted, or have demanded that other valuable programs be cut to pay for them. The Ryan budget, which Mr. Romney praised as “an excellent piece of work,” would result in severe cutbacks to the agency, as would the Republican-instigated sequester, which would cut disaster relief by 8.2 percent on top of earlier reductions.

Does Mr. Romney really believe that financially strapped states would do a better job than a properly functioning federal agency? Who would make decisions about where to send federal aid? Or perhaps there would be no federal aid, and every state would bear the burden of billions of dollars in damages. After Mr. Romney’s 2011 remarks recirculated on Monday, his nervous campaign announced that he does not want to abolish FEMA, though he still believes states should be in charge of emergency management. Those in Hurricane Sandy’s path are fortunate that, for now, that ideology has not replaced sound policy.

Interesting to note how Mitt thinks that providing federal aid to states in need is “immoral,” yet is fine with taking $1.5 billion in federal dollars to finance his Olympics.

No, “immoral,” is going to a soup kitchen that’s already closed and washing some clean pots and pans, for a grand total of 3 minutes, in order to pretend you care, and the next day your supporters try to put the soup kitchen out of business.


Gabe Ortíz is a San Francisco-based writer. He has contributed to the Mission's bilingual newspaper "El Tecolote," and the political blogs AMERICAblog, AMERICAblog Gay, and Veracity Stew. He's also a Stevie Nicks lover and shameless catlady. Follow him on Twitter: @Tusk81.

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