Does Mitt Romney want to get the Federal government out of the business of responding to natural disasters?
Rachel Maddow: "There is a really pressing question to be asked, right? Would a Romney Presidency not have the Federal government involved in this response? Would the Romney Presidency not have the Federal government do what the Federal government is doing right now in terms of its response to Sandy? Would a President Romney actually get rid of FEMA like he said would be the right thing to do?"
Is the criticism justified?
First off, understand that at no point in that debate did Romney ever say FEMA should be shut down.
Nope. Full stop. Search the archives my friends, it's doesn't exist.
What he does say is that the states could do a better job at some of the roles the federal government plays. He doesn't mention FEMA, but I’m going to.
Yesterday, we talked a little about the federal emergency response administration's missteps in the past -the slow response to Hurricane Katrina, and the formaldehyde-laden trailers that were purchased for Katrina victims to live in. Now it's becoming more and more clear Hurricane Sandy may be another example of the government blowing it.
Yesterday, Staten Island residents had the same complaints the residents of New Orleans 7 years ago. Where's FEMA when we need them?
There are other problems with FEMA that liberal bureaucracy-huggers like Maddow like to ignore.
According to a new analysis from the Heritage Foundation, FEMA dollars, which are after all taxpayer dollars, look more and more like a goody bag- a honey pot for presidents to raid. Think of FEMA as a political pork barrel spending agency because that unfortunately is what it has become.
Disaster declarations are on the rise. Under Reagan, there were 28 per year on average, 89 under Bill Clinton and 129 under George W. Bush, and Obama takes the cake with 153 on average per year.
Matt Mayer at the Heritage Foundation writes: "To put this in perspective, it means that somewhere in America in 2011, a disaster occurred every day and a half, that required the intervention of the federal government because each of these disasters overwhelmed a state and its local governments."
Strains credibility doesn't it?
Don't misunderstand me- I'm not saying that there should be no federal response to disasters, just that the current system is broken. Let's at least 'fess up to that. If you want a better example look at The Home Depot.
The company's supply chain managers and executives met a full week before the storm to move high demand items like generators, plywood and bleach from stores outside the storm's path to stores inside that path. By the Friday before the storm, 350 Home Depot execs were deployed to a command center at the company's Atlanta headquarters to coordinate a response. A conference room outfitted with TVs monitoring local and national newscasts kept company managers up to date.
The Home Depot was organized and planning ahead.
Now, two weeks after The Home Depot started its planning, and nearly a week after the actual storm took place, residents of Staten Island, New Jersey, and Long Island are still asking “where is the help from the federal government?”
People missing, homes destroyed, gas shortages abound, and more than 3 million residents still without power.
Maddow had it wrong, but maybe what she fears most would be right.
Responding to disasters would be better handled by states, and yes, my friends, private businesses.
The Willis Report with Gerri Willis investigates the top business stories, outs corporate scams and polices D.C. policy.