With Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney running neck to neck with incumbent Barack Obama, some felt only a miracle would break up the deadlock. Lacking a miracle, a disaster will do. With Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the Eastern Seaboard, many are quoting Romney’s GOP primary debate last year, in which he suggested funds to FEMA should be cut or limited. Contrasted with Obama’s strong response to the storm and his loud support of FEMA, the issue seems pretty cut and dry for a lot of wet hurricane survivors.
“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, ” said Romney. “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 should we cut?’ we should ask the opposite question: ‘What should we keep?’”
Juxtaposing this government-limiting stance, many people are tempted to think, “What if we didn’t have FEMA now?” though Romney never suggested we should cut the program without something sufficient in its place. Nevertheless, Obama has gotten all sorts f brownie points for praising the program which does seem comforting in times of emergency, whatever its true merits.
As the Washington Post reported: “For a day at least, Hurricane Sandy appears to have done for President Obama what he has not been able to do for himself. In a campaign notable mostly for its negativity, the historic storm provided Obama with a commander-in-chief moment a week before his Election Day. The president gained a rare moment of bipartisan praise, with Democratic and Republican governors alike commending the performance of the federal government. And the storm put on pause, for now, the sense that rival Mitt Romney had all the momentum in the home stretch.”
Romney, meanwhile, has kept silent when reporters repeatedly asked him what he would do with FEMA. Perhaps judging that this was not the right time for an objective look at FEMA’s merits and demerits, he has not responded to the calls of reporters demanding clarifications of his stance on FEMA.
He did, however, make clarifications. His campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said, “Governor 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.”
FEMA, it seems, was not to be axed. And why this redirection of responsibilities? As Romney’s 2011 debate had said, “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.”