Should the U.S. Get Rid of FEMA, as Ron Paul Suggests?

GOP 2012 candidate denounces FEMA as natural disasters plague the country.

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Ken Walsh reports that Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul denounced the Federal Emergency Management Agency Sunday morning on Fox News, as millions of Americans buckled down for Hurricane Irene. Paul has been consistent in his criticism of the agency, voting against a 2008 bill that would have sent federal aid to his home state of Texas after Hurricane Ike, and promising to oppose any future requests by the Obama administration for more funding. His most recent condemnations came directly after a Fox News interview with FEMA Director Craig Fugate. Paul admitted it would take time to dissolve the agency but it was necessary that Americans “transition out of the dependency on the federal government." [Read more about how President Obama is handling natural disasters.]

According to Paul, the country simply cannot afford to waste money on the “deeply flawed policy” that underlies FEMA’s operation. He argues that FEMA has one of the worst reputations for inefficient bureaucracy and that it “creates many of our problems.” FEMA came under attack after its bungling of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the federal deficit has dominated the national political debate. Yet the timing of Paul’s comments was particularly bold, as they came only days after an unprecedented Virginia earthquake and while a hurricane roared through much of the Northeast.

Tuesday’s earthquake did little damage and some have complained that Hurricane Irene was overhyped. Millions are still without power and many areas, especially Vermont, have experienced the worst flooding in decades. The death count currently sits in the 20s, but could have been much higher if it not for the efforts of government officials. Argues Susan Milligan,

First responders on a government payroll stepped up to rescue people and clear the streets and beaches. President Obama declared federal emergencies that will make states and the District of Columbia eligible for disaster aid. And now, people will undoubtedly expect their state and federal governments to help clear the debris and fix damaged infrastructure. Or is the We-Hate-Government crowd expecting the private sector to volunteer to pay for it?

What do you think? Do Americans depend too much on the federal government for disaster aid? Should FEMA be disbanded, as proposed by Rep. Ron Paul? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Has Martin Luther King's Dream Been Realized?