Mitt Romney: Federal Disaster Relief "Immoral"

The federal government’s ability to respond to natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy currently bearing down on the East Coast, would be significantly hindered under a Romney-Ryan administration.


At least three times, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have publicly demanded that the federal government only disburse disaster relief funding if Congress agreed to offsetting budget cuts elsewhere. This would hold desperately-needed disaster relief funding hostage unless Congress agreed to cuts elsewhere in the budget, an extraordinarily difficult prospect even in normal circumstances.

Though GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) became the public face of such intransigence in the wake of natural disaster last year, Romney and Ryan have repeatedly made clear they agree with Cantor’s position.

Last year, after a major tornado and flood struck the United States, Romney was asked in a debate about federal disaster relief funding. Romney not only suggested shuttering FEMA and sending responsibility for disaster relief “back to the private sector,” but also said it would be “immoral” for the federal government to fund disaster relief efforts without cutting the budget elsewhere. “It makes no sense at all,” Romney concluded. Watch it:

Ryan’s 2012 budget took a similar approach to disaster funding. As The Hill noted in May 2012, Ryan’s budget called for any disaster relief funding to “be fully offset within the discretionary levels provided in this resolution.” In other words, Congress would have to agree on cuts elsewhere in the budget if it wanted to dole out funds after a disaster. This idea was so far out of the mainstream that even Republican legislators abandoned the idea. Ryan opposed Obama’s efforts to build significant funding for disaster relief into the budget, a move intended to avoid the kinds of delays forced by Cantor and the Tea Party last year.

This is not a new position for Ryan. Long before he entered the political limelight, Ryan was still pushing a similar line on disaster funding. In a March 23, 2004 speechon the House floor, Ryan proposed that any emergency spending legislation, including disaster relief, be automatically offset by an “across-the-board” budget cut. After proposing legally-binding spending limits, Ryan bemoaned the fact that these emergency spending items “do not have to be paid for under our current budget rules.” Automatic cuts, Ryan explained, would help Congress offset funding that went to disaster relief.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.