Did Mitt Say He’d Shut Down FEMA

October 28, 2012 7:34 p.m.

Back when he was severely conservative during the GOP primaries, did Mitt Romney say he’d shut down FEMA and have the states take responsibility for disaster relief? Not quite in one declarative statement. But he certainly seemed to say that disaster preparedness and relief should be taken from the federal government and turned over to the states.Ryan Grim over at Huffpo just wrote up a passage from a June GOP primary debate in which Romney seems pretty clearly to say we should shut FEMA down and send disaster relief as a responsibility back to the states.

(Less dramatically, though perhaps just as important, this MoJo piece from August notes that the Ryan budget, which Romney has embraced, almost certainly requires big cuts in various disaster preparedness and relief programs.)

He links a video which was uploaded back on September 21st of last year but seems to have been viewed by virtually no one until tonight.

The video is really short, only 47 seconds. The clincher comes after the video ends with King’s follow up “Including disaster relief, thought?”

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.

Many things that Romney said back during his severely conservative period I have little doubt are what he really believes. This one though is so nonsensical that I’d chalk it up more to his penchant for pandering and lack of character. But that’s a difficult excuse for Romney to use on his behalf and I suspect we’ll be hearing more about this pretty soon.

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