With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the entire east coast, it’s worth remembering back to when Mitt Romney was in his severely conservative primary phase. He told CNN’s John King during the June 13, 2011 Republican presidential primary debate that federal disaster relief was “immoral” because deficit. Watch:
Here’s a transcript of the snip.
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. [emphasis added]
Severely conservative Mitt also picked severely conservative Paul Ryan for his running mate, the guy who attempted to cut a new disaster aid fundthat “budgets help for victims of hurricanes, tornadoes and floods before they occur.” Luckily for the entire east coast this week, party leadership nixed that idea.
But what happens with the next monster storm under Romney/Ryan? The Ryan budget, fully embraced by Romney, would make such deep cuts in federal funding that disaster relief would have to be passed on to states and localities. Romney,which is specifically what he is saying should happen in that clip. But funding for states and localities is also so sharply curtailed that they’ll be hard pressed to respond to disasters. Which, as he made clear at the debate, is exactly what will force his ultimate goal: privatizing disaster relief.
Huffington Post asked Romney about this issue on Sunday, and a campaign official basically reaffirmed Romney’s position that it’s all up to the states:
“Gov. Romney wants to ensure states, who are the first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities, have the resources and assistance they need to cope with natural disasters,” the Romney