At a Republican primary debate earlier in this campaign, GOP nominee Mitt Romney said he thought funding for disaster relief should be left to the states, or even privatized, and that to continue federal funding of disaster relief was “simply immoral,” a position that puts him at odds with events during the final days of this campaign. On the campaign trail Tuesday, Romney was given 11 opportunities to say he no longer thinks it’s a good idea to de-fund FEMA, and each time, literally stood by, refusing to take it back.
On Tuesday night’s The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow actually counted the number of times Romney was asked about his comments at that debate, which turned out to be eleven, not fourteen, as one reporter pegged it:
Give these reporters credit for allowing Romney the chance to back out of his previous statement, a chance he probably should have taken. Lest you think Rachel is being unkind, here is exactly what Romney was asked at that debate, by CNN’s John King, and how he responded: (emphasis mine)
KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. 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.
Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…
KING: Including disaster relief, though?
ROMNEY: 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.
True, and the children who drown will at least be spared the knowledge that their surviving peers might get saddled with immoral emergency lifesaving debt. It’s a win-win.
Romney’s position on FEMA puts him in a tough spot. Even Republican Super-Duperstar Chris Christie has praised the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, telling Fox and Friends that the President’s emergency declaration “helps us tremendously,” and that he told the President “if you could expedite designating New Jersey as a major disaster area, that that would help us to get federal money and resources in here as quickly as possible to help clean up the damage here.”
Even the fringiest of the right wing recognize the role of the federal government in matters of public safety, but with Mitt Romney, what you’ll get is a guy who thinks that every problem is a privatizable nail.
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