Mitt Romneyâs FEMA Fable

Are Mitt Romney past FEMA comments coming back to haunt him?

Ever secure in his choice to follow the sociopath’s guide to winning the presidency, once again Willard Romney is allowing the wind to shift one of his political positions in an transparent effort to pander to a public that at this rate shouldn’t be stupid enough to believe anything that comes out of his mouth.

With a hurricane dubbed “Frankenstorm” going upside the head of the East Coast, it’s not surprising that journalists are revisiting past comments Mitt Romney made about the usefulness of Federal Emergency Management Agency in handling natural disasters. When Romney was asked if FEMA ought to be shuttered in favor of states taking responsibility over disaster response during a CNN Republican Presidential primary debate in June 2011 he answered, “Absolutely.”

He went on to add: “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.”

Anyone who thinks the responsibility to provide safety for millions of Americans in a natural disaster should go to the private sector is a corporatist droid in desperate need of a reality check. Or concisely: Mitt Romney. As for leaving the duty to individual states, the problem with that logic lies in the fact that states often can’t properly budget for the unimaginable given they’re often bound by law to have their budgets balanced. Conversely, the federal government is free to be more flexible with deficits. And as the Obama administration has shown repeatedly, FEMA can be useful if ran properly.

With that in mind, why keep arguing to decimate the agency? I try not to entertain crony for corporate interests logic too often for fear of it being contagious, but I will point out that Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan have both demanded that the federal government only disburse relief funds if Congress agreed to offsetting budget cuts. Or in other words, screw your home floating into the ocean ‘cause we’ve got a budget to balance (in theory). GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) made that sentiment clear following calls for relief for Joplin, MO, after a deadly tornado ravaged the area.

The White House recently noted that should sequester cuts to the FEMA budget take effect, they estimate that the agency would lose about $878 million, largely from programs that provide direct relief to disaster victims of storms like Hurricane Sandy.

But since now isn’t an particularly good time for voters to know such facts, the campaign is once again going back, back, forth and forth on a position. Suddenly Romney doesn’t want to sounds so ominous about the future of FEMA under his would be administration, with his spokespeople saying that he would not abolish the agency.

Yet, Romney spokesman Ryan Williams claimed: “Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions. As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.”

So, his position hasn’t changed at all really, but the campaign would like to give the perception that it has i.e. “We don’t really want to snatch PETA’s wig.”

But he does, which makes this statement utterly worthless given that ticket will revert back to its original position the second the East Coast is clear. Lip service from people wanting to head federal government doesn’t help anyone in natural disasters, federal aid for federal disaster relief does. I can’t wait until this is over and Romney can go float into the political abyss where he belongs.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick