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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Obama, Romney Differ On FEMA

Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney spent Tuesday dodging reporters’ questions on whether he would eliminate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and send the money back to the states to manage disaster response.

In a June 2011 Republican primary debate (see transcript below), Romney suggested that disaster relief would be better handled by the states, or even the private sector.

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement to Politico: “Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions.”

The Romney-Ryan ticket is facing questions about how much their proposed budgets would slash FEMA.

President Obama’s budget would cut FEMA by 3 percent.

The Washington Post reports that both Paul Ryan and Romney have proposed huge budget cuts to non-defense discretionary spending, which includes FEMA:

“Romney has vowed to cut federal spending to less than 20 percent of GDP by 2016 without touching entitlements or defense. That means that non-defense discretionary spending—which includes FEMA aid—would have to be reduced by an eye-popping 40 percent.” From The Washington Post, 10/30/12

But neither Romney nor Ryan will be specific about whether those cuts would affect FEMA and if so, how deeply they would go.

Transcript from Republican Primary Debate

June 13, 2011

John King, CNN/Debate Moderator: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

Mitt Romney: Absolutely. 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.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

King: Including disaster relief, though?

Romney: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. 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, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

King: All right, we need to work in another break. I know all the candidates want to get in on these issues and other issues. We will get back to them, I promise you that.

Guest:


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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