Hurricane Sandy: Need disaster relief? Mitt Romney wants to get rid of that.
As the Northeast starts the painful process of recovering from Hurricane Sandy, it’s important to reflect on who’s going to be there to pick up the pieces. This election year we are faced with a serious choice: Is government the enemy, or is government… us?
Now that he’s etch-a-sketched himself from severely conservative Mitt into moderate Mittens, Romney would like you to forget everything he said during the primaries. Because the stands he took to appeal to the hard-core demolish-the-US-government GOP base sound like craziness to the rest of us.
Do we REALLY think that spending money on disaster relief is “immoral”? And something best left to the states? Do we really think that New Jersey should be on its own after a hurricane? Or Florida, or Louisiana? “Sorry, guys, we just can’t afford you?”
Especially as climate change and global warming fuel ever-more-extravagant disasters?
Because that’s what Romney called for during the primaries, just a few short months ago. He’s hoping we all suffer from Romnesia – but I don’t think we should let that happen.
Here’s what he said told CNN’s John King:
KING: 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?
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.
That’s right. For the Federal government to be spending money on disaster relief is immoral. The greatest, richest nation in the history of humanity… just can’t afford luxuries like cleaning up after a hurricane anymore.
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Here’s the video:
I know what you’re thinking – he didn’t really mean that, right? That was just bullshit politics. He was just pandering to the base.
Nope. Moderate Mitt is the pander. If Romney is elected, expect the worst.
Here’s the Romney campaign, on Sunday, responding to a question from Huffington post about whether he was really serious about cutting disaster aid:
“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 Romney official said.
Note the weaselly response. What does that actually mean? How do you “ensure states… have the resources they need” if you’re cutting those resources? By waving a magic wand? (Oh wait, that’s his tax plan and his job growth plan, too….)
And of course, if he’s elected, the budgets President Romney signs are going to come from the House GOP. We’ve seen their plans already – his running mate, Paul Ryan, is the architect of the House budget.
And what did he do for disaster relief? Cut money for FEMA, and entirely eliminated a new disaster aid fund that “budgets help for victims of hurricanes, tornadoes and floods before they occur.” Because, you know, planning for a rainy day is just immoral.
As the New York Times puts it in a scathing editorial:
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.
House Republicans hate disaster funding so much that they were willing to go as far as threatening a government shutdown over disaster aid. They ended up cutting the program to the bone – at a time when disasters are bigger and more expensive than ever. All in the name of “small government” and turning things back over to the states.
And what about Romney’s track record as Governor of Massachusetts?
There’s a reason you don’t hear Mitt talking much about that on the campaign trail – because it sucked.
In 2004, Romney vetoed funding for flood prevention in recently flooded Peabody, Massachusetts. Romney claimed he didn’t have enough information about the project, though local officials said they had given him lots of information. In 2006, Peabody flooded again. Romney was there for a photo op after the flood, but Peabody probably would have preferred to have had the funding to prevent flooding in the first place.
When the city of Greenfield flooded, in 2005, Romney was too busy traveling the nation positioning himself for a presidential run to find out the extent of the flooding or declare an emergency. The most senior person in his administration, the city’s mayor, could get in touch with was the lieutenant governor’s chief of staff. Without help from the state, Greenfield faced an example of what America can look forward to if Romney becomes president:
Forgey says a resident opened up the high school and used it as a crisis shelter. A radio station launched a food and clothing drive and the Red Cross provided services. […]The town could handle distributing donated shirts and juice. But Greenfield, with its population of 18,000, couldn’t repair this level of loss, which had been estimated to exceed $1 million. Forgey said she needed the state government to respond and for Romney to declare an emergency. But for days, Greenfield residents were on their own, with limited outside help.
Romney says he wants states to handle emergency response. But when he had the chance to show how well that can work, all he showed was failure and indifference.