This just seems amazingly misguided. And I don’t understand why more is not being made of it.
Fully $50 billion of those recovery and reconstruction funds passed by Congress today are going to FEMA. FEMA is going to administer those funds. That is just friggin’ crazy.
Even if FEMA were still a model government agency, as it was by most accounts in the 1990s, this would still be a really, really bad decision. As the title says, FEMA is an emergency management agency, not a reconstruction agency. It doesn’t have the organizational structure or competence to run the economy of a significant chunk of the United States for the foreseeable future, which is what this amounts to.
In the ten “Principles of Reconstruction” he posted yesterday at TPMCafe, Reed Hundt had these as #6 and #7 …
6. Don’t confuse reconstruction with emergency relief. Whatever reforms are necessary at DHS, it is clear that DHS should have nothing to do with reconstruction because its mission is to protect the rest of America from the next calamities and to provide emergency relief when necessary.
7. Don’t build a permanent reconstruction bureaucracy. Every reconstruction agency or authority should be managed by real managers, not political appointees, and should go out of business when the work is done.
Both of these are just right. And principle six applies to FEMA every bit as much as it does to DHS.
And all that of course would all apply if FEMA were a well-run agency. But obviously, it’s not. It’s currently run by a crew of political hacks. The agency itself — if its recent performance is any example — is in deep disarray. It’s become thoroughly politicized. And there are already very credible claims that it has used its disaster relief funds to advance narrowly political agendas. And then add on top of that what we’ve seen this administration do with the contracting mess in Iraq. Contracting cronyism defines this administration. And we’re giving $50 billion to one of its most cronyfied outposts.
This is a fiscal disaster waiting to happen, a truly terrible idea.