As the Federal Emergency Management Agency braces for the havoc of Hurricane Sandy, questions have started to arise about how much the federal disaster relief agency would be able to help if Mitt Romney were president.
In 2011, during the heat of the Republican primary, the GOP candidate said during a debate that he would support cuts to federal disaster relief as part of an overall plan to reduce the deficit.
“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,” Romney told debate moderator John King. “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 the opposite question, what should we keep?”
When John King interrupted to clarify, “Including disaster relief?” Romney continued, “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.” (h/t Slate)
It is not clear if Romney still holds this position toward FEMA, or if his stance has softened over the past year. The Romney campaign has not yet responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Watch the clip below, courtesy of ThinkProgress:
UPDATE: Romney’s campaign spokesperson Ryan Williams emailed this response to Business Insider:
“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.”
The Romney campaign also pointed out that FEMA’s disaster relief budget would face cuts of up to $580 million if Congress is unable to avoid sequestration next year.
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