Not disguising his complete aversion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 2012 Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said he believes the country would be better off without it.
On Friday, Paul, R-Texas, told NBC that there was nothing magic about the FEMA, which had been preparing to spend $800 million from its relief fund to assist communities in the wake of Hurricane Irene.
Seeks to Return to Public Policies of 1900
We should be like 1900, we should be like 1950, 1950, 1960, Paul said during a stop in New Hampshire.
Following an interview with FEMA Director Craig Fugate, the Texas congressman took to Fox News Sunday to reiterate his distaste for the agency, but acknowledged that it would take time to get rid of it.
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It's a system of bureaucratic central-economic planning, which is a fallacy that is deeply flawed. So no, you don't get rid of something like that in one day, Paul said. I propose that we save a billion from the overseas war mongering, bring half that home and put it against the deficit, and yes, tide people over until we come to our senses and realize that FEMA has been around since 1978. It has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever, he added, arguing that instead of disaster victims, federal money often goes to contractors.
Paul, who represents the 14th Congressional District that runs partly along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, also argued that temporary aid provided by FEMA has aided in the ruin of the economy by creating a false dependency.
We've conditioned our people that FEMA will take care of us and everything will be OK, but you try to make these programs work the best you can, but you can't just keep saying, 'Oh, they need money,' ... Well, we're out of money, this country is bankrupt.
Argues FEMA Encourages High-Risk Building, Commercial Activity
He also added that FEMA is a distortion of the U.S. insurance system because it rewards bad behavior, Fox News reported.
FEMA creates many of our problems because they sell the insurance because you can't buy it from a private company, which means there's a lot of danger, so we pay people to build on beaches, and we have to go and rescue them, he said. It's so far removed from the market and the understanding of what insurance should be about. Insurance should measure risk; it shouldn't be a bailout program endlessly.
Earlier in the show, host Chris Wallace asked FEMA's Fugate whether FEMA will need emergency spending to deal with Irene. Fugate said the agency currently has enough in its bank account to deal with the response, but it may need more as the damage becomes clearer.
Going into this storm, we had over $800 million still in the relief fund, which is allowing us to continue the response in the existing disasters and ramp up for this one, Paul said. Really, Chris, it depends on how much damages and recovery and rebuilding costs and that will determine how much more funds we're going to need. We won't know that until we actually get out and see some of the damages and do some of the damage assessments. But for the response piece, we do have the funds there to go, and we are committing the resources, even as Irene moves up the coast.