FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. See, when major disasters strike that hit more than one area or one state, the President is expected to step in focus efforts and make sure that all is running smoothly. And when disasters are not striking, the President has to understand that by budgeting for FEMA we are looking after our own long-term best interests. He or she has to believe in FEMA’s mission and purpose. President Obama does believe in the purpose FEMA. He will continue to fund it, ensure it is staffed properly and ensure that it is run efficiently in future even in the midst of serious economic difficulties 1. The President would do a good job of it because he maintains a very steady, centered leader under such circumstances 2. Mitt Romney would not only decimate FEMA, he wouldn’t be able to lead the response properly.
First let’s deal with FEMA’s purpose. Back during the Republican primaries, during a debate Romney was specifically asked whether he would cut aid to disaster relief. His response:
We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids,” Romney replied. “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.
Romney would allow people to suffer and that would hurt us all
So at that time, Romney was saying it was immoral to leave our children with debt to aid Americans in the aftermath of a natural disaster. This is like saying, ‘well my family is homeless right now and I could use a loan to provide us shelter until things improve (btw, isn’t that what a mortgage is?), but that’s immoral because it will raise my debt. Therefore we will remain homeless.’ Who does that? No one. It shows a lack of compassion that is disturbing. From the larger socio-economic perspective, the loss of production, closure of major ports and through ways, and social participation throughout a region of the country can have devastating effects in all kinds of ways 3. We saw this with Katrina and we’re already starting to see it now with Sandy.
Romney wants the States to do Disaster Relief
Furthermore, Romney said he would like to push those responsibilities off to the states or privatization. If a state could handle it’s own disaster relief why haven’t they? If supplies, people, and all other kinds of aid is needed to cross state lines, it becomes a logistical nightmare for the states to manage such things. Also, if there are multiple state’s trying to meet their own disaster needs, they would be competing with the same vendors. Let’s say both NJ and NY need temporary housing for a few thousand people. They would be calling the same vendors and trying to get the same trailers. It’s not like there is a ton of them on the market, enough to cover the homeless. Do we want NY and NJ to compete over that temporary housing? Wouldn’t that drive the cost up and create delays? Then how do the state’s get it there? They would have to compete for the same hauling companies. No, the Federal Government does it better—one buyer, no haggling over price and pre-established relationship with national hauling companies. States cannot do what the Federal Government can do. After all if you entire state is wiped out, its pretty darn hard to help yourself when your power only extends to the borders of that state.
Romney wants to privatize Disaster Relief
Okay so let’s say he pushes it off to the states and the states privatize it (which is what they are doing to more and more services such as Corrections, Healthcare, Schools, etc). In all cases where privatization occurs in a safety-related fields that are normally left to the government, the poor and struggling suffer and receive little to no assistance. For example, there are many stories out there of private firemen standing by while a house burns down in front of them. Why? Because the owner of the house didn’t pay the fee required by the private company but his neighbor did. So the neighbors house is soaked with hoses to keep the fire from spreading, but the first house is allowed to burn like a Yule Log. The owner of the burning house is a tax paying citizen 4. He or she works and participates in the community. But for the lack of a fee they will lose almost all of their material possessions adn their shelter. Why didn’t they pay it? In most cases after providing for all their other basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) there wasn’t anything left. So I don’t know about you but a citizen’s net worth should not determine whether they are “worthy” of receiving disaster and/or emergency assistance. We’re all equal in this country, meaning we’re all deserving simply because we are citizens. Full Stop.
Romney isn’t a calm and steady leader
Let’s look at Romney’s leadership ability. First Benghazi…. On Sept. 11th both candidates suspended politics for the day out of respect and by mutual agreement. Then our Cairo Embassy issued a statement at 6 am about violence against Americans and that stupid movie that pissed off Muslims around the world. In Benghazi an attack occurred during the afternoon and by 6:30 pm Sec of State Clinton announced the death of one American. At 10:10 pm Politico cited an unnamed admin official who said that the Cairo Embassy statement had not been vetted by the White House and did not represent the view of the entire U.S. government. At exactly the same time, Romney sent a statement to the New York Times condemning the President for not supporting the Cairo Embassy’s statement. Romney told the Times to hold his statement until after Midnight because of the “no politics” agreement. Then Romney waited all of 14 minutes, couldn’t stand it anymore, and told the NY Times to release it at 10:24 pm. The next morning Romney was on television and reversed his criticism from the night before saying that the Cairo Embassy’s statement was “an apology” and wrong (and of course, trying to connect this to his other lie, the ongoing BS about the Apology Tour).
At this point the situation in Benghazi was very chaotic and the Administration was still not saying much 5 because it wasn’t very clear what was going on, who was behind it and how we should respond. In such situations, a leader can say one wrong word and start a war (Cuban Missile Crisis anyone? Good Lord can you imagine Romney remaining calm and quiet under such circumstances—terrifying). That’s why we have diplomacy and why the President has to be very careful when making statements after such violent international incidents. In the meantime, instead of politicizing it, the President quietly began to ready military assets in staging positions around Libya in case military action was called for while also trying to inform the public as well as they could (and I’m sure without giving away anything secret that would put MORE Americans in jeopardy). Basically, Romney was lying, jumping the gun, breaking an honorable promise, making political hay out of the death of American citizens AND doing so while he was woefully uninformed is NOT the hallmark of a leader.
Second, now we have Sandy. The President suspended campaigning, returned to Washington and began communicating with Governors, FEMA, and other relief organizations. Romney says he suspended his campaign for a day but what he really did was take a pre-scheduled campaign rally, send out his staff to purchase $5,000 in goods from a local store, have them set the products up for display and then held the rally anyway. Indeed, unless an attendee had something to donate in hand, they weren’t allowed to enter the rally. Easily solved. His staff gave them the items already purchased. Great photo op and isn’t Romney grand for rallying people to help out. /sarcasm Except the Red Cross never wants products as they have no way to get that stuff to the affected area. They need cash. But people pretending to donate goods is so much more tangible and photographable, you see? During the rally Romney conflated why he was even in Ohio, to get their votes with the act of helping people affected by Sandy 6. So Romney said that he too suspended his campaign for the day, except he really didn’t. So again, we see Romney lying about what he was doing and why he was doing it, uninformed as to what is the appropriate action to take was and spouting off with the stupid (his statement on needing Ohio is pretty incoherent).
Third, and related to the Sandy is the ongoing lie about Chrysler moving Jeep production to China. Romney issued an ad and made statements about this issue and it has worried more than a few auto workers. And he continues repeating the original statements (along with his staff) even in spite of the fact that both GM and Chrysler issued statements saying Romney is not being truthful. Indeed, they are expanding Jeep production here in the U.S., not moving it overseas. What kind of leader lies like that, during such difficult economic times when people are already worried? What kind of leader keeps lying even when the companies he’s lying about refute what he says? A leader should project confidence and Romney certainly isn’t doing that for the auto workers. He has cause to be positive instead he lies about a negative to eke out a few more of the fear-based voters. This isn’t a leader, this is the sign of a potential despot.
Romney won’t balance fiscal responsibility with necessary budget planning
Both candidates want to cut the budget for FEMA, but all agencies are under the knife in order to get our debt and deficit under control. This is understandable. The only problem is, the President’s cut is a manageable 3%, indicating he understands the agency’s importance and that he recognizes that we have to plan for the long term. We KNOW that these kinds of storms will continue and they will increasingly move up the east coast to our heavily populated urban centers because of warming waters off the coast. Romney’s plan would cut FEMA by 40% at precisely the wrong time. I understand we need to trim our budget and I see nothing wrong with that. But our President should understand where we can afford to cut and where we can’t. Romney just doesn’t get it.
1. Because you wouldn’t live without money in the bank, just in case, would you? That’s what FEMA is….it’s money, goods, transportation, housing….all the stuff that will get us through a temporary crisis caused by Mother Nature.
2. Heck, even NJ Governor Chris Christie thinks the President did an outstanding job during preparations for Hurricane Sandy.
3. Example, the NYSE has been shut down for two days….that’s huge! Essentially, if people’s basic needs (see Maslow’s Hierarchy) aren’t taken care of, then they aren’t going to pursue some of the more complex and other-centric needs–like starting up a new business, donating to charity, vacationing, purchasing other non-essential goods, voting, etc, etc.
4. Don’t give me 47% of Americans don’t pay taxes BS. This lie has been debunked so many times it’s ridiculous but for the slow learners out there here’s the short bus version. That’s income taxes! But they pay taxes on everything else and in so doing actually DO pay quite a lot, certainly a greater percentage of what money they do have goes toward paying taxes than it does for someone like Romney. This is called an “Effective Tax Rate”.
5. The President did say it was a terrorist act. Romney blatantly lied during the second debate.
6. Typical narcissist, it’s ALL about him.