|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA, helps provide food, water, shelter, electric power, and other critical services in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. “This form of discretionary federal aid would be subject to cuts under the Ryan budget,” the CBPP report points out.
While the Ryan budget is characteristically vague about what exactly would be cut from FEMA, its plan to reduce non-entitlement spending to 3.5 percent of GDP in the next 40 years would assuredly include a drastic downsizing of the department.
“If [discretionary federal aid] were scaled back substantially, states and localities would need to bear a larger share of the costs of disaster response and recovery, or attempt to make do with less during difficult times,” as CBPP warns.
This presents a two-pronged problem: First, overburdened local authorities are far less prepared than FEMA for the wide range of disasters that can strike a community. Second, most states — especially some of the most disaster-prone, such as California and Mississippi — are in the midst of serious budget crises as it is. In short, the Ryan plan’s effect on disaster relief would itself be disastrous.
The CBPP report warns that “Federal discretionary funds also help states, cities, and other local governments hire police officers,” and that “Big cuts in funds to hire police officers would shift more of the cost of hiring these officers to state and local budgets.” Given Mitt Romney’s stated opposition to states hiring more police officers and firefighters, it’s safe to assume that, while first responders are in Republicans’ prayers, they aren’t in Republicans’ budgets.
Seven years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina and a lackluster response from FEMA led to one of the worst disasters in American history. Now, as climate change leads to more extreme weather than the country has ever seen, only the party that believed disgraced Bush FEMA director Michael Brown did “a heck of a job” could think it prudent to decimate the budget for disaster relief. But as Paul Ryan takes the stage in Tampa to accept the vice presidential nomination on Wednesday, remember: This is what passes as “serious” in the modern Republican party.
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. [...] 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.
One day after he was named official flag-bearer of the Republican revolution, Mitt Romney confronted the limits of his small government rhetoric Friday in the storm-ravaged Louisiana Bayou.
As Hurricane Isaac petered out and headed off northwards, Romney jetted in from his nomination convention in Florida to visit the desperate residents of Lafitte, a small flood-damaged community just inland from New Orleans.
There, with the world’s media looking on, he met 22-year-old mother-of-two Ashley Vegas, whose home was destroyed by a 12-foot (four-meter) wall of water, and whose bare feet contrasted oddly with Romney’s suede loafers.
His advice for the suddenly homeless family? Seek a bailout from the US federal government’s disaster agency FEMA by calling its 211 emergency hotline.
Vegas was thankful for the lifeline, open to many in Louisiana since Romney’s opponent President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency there earlier this week, freeing up government rescue funds for beleaguered communities.
“I think he’s a very good man,” Vegas volunteered. “He’s here to help everybody and do what he can.”
Asked by reporters whether she was a Republican or a Democrat, the young woman giggled and said: “My mom would know.”
The FEMA gambit might be the best option for flooded families in Lafitte, but the idea clashed with the message of Romney’s campaign so far, which has focused on celebrating private enterprise and decrying government hand-outs.