I didn’t think it was possible for me to be any more pissed than I was during the Republican National Convention when I heard Mitt Romney say the following.
If there’s any silver lining at all in what’s happening right now along the east coast, it’s that maybe, just maybe, people will begin to see Romney for the smug, entitled, pandering little anti-science asshole that he is. I cannot even begin to fathom how one of our candidates for the highest office in the country could stand on a stage, in front of millions, and suggest that caring about America’s families and caring about the effects of global climate change are somehow mutually exclusive. I wonder how the families of the 11 Americans already killed by Hurricane Sandy feel about Romney’s guffaw-inducing inference that our President was stupid and out-of-touch for wanting to see climate change addressed in a serious manner. I know that it may not seem like a big deal to a man with a diverse portfolio of homes, and access to private jets that can easily shuttle his family between them, avoiding the dangers brought on by rising tides, and the increasingly violent weather patterns that have become the new normal, but some of us actually have to stay in these areas ravaged by the extreme weather brought about by global climate change, and fight for our lives.
But, as I said, some sanity is beginning to peak through the dark grey clouds of anti-intellectualism. Just today, Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, knowing that his state is in serious peril, dropped his ‘we need to slash taxes and starve the federal government’ nonsense, and began praising the Obama administration’s preparation for the hurricane. “I appreciated the president’s outreach today in making sure that we know he’s watching this and is concerned about the health and welfare and safety of the people of the state of New Jersey,” he said… The lessons of Hurricane Katrina, it would seem, become a little less abstract when it’s your people facing the brunt of a hurricane’s destructive force.
Thankfully for Christie, Obama is the President right now and not Romney, who has gone on the record saying that we should eliminate, downsize or privatize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Here, with more on that, is yet another piece of video of Romney.
And, before you say that he doesn’t really mean it, let’s remember what the Romney economic plan, as outlined by Paul Ryan, would do to FEMA. The following is from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“States and local areas hit by natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and tornadoes often seek help from the federal government. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, at a governor’s request, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helps people affected by the disaster get food, water, and shelter, and can help with search-and-rescue missions and providing electric power. FEMA also helps states and local governments repair or replace public facilities and infrastructure, which often is not insured. This form of discretionary federal aid would be subject to cuts under the Ryan budget. If it were scaled back substantially, states and localities would need to bear a larger share of the costs of disaster response and recovery, or attempt to make do with less during difficult times. Federal discretionary funds also help states, cities, and other local governments hire police officers. Big cuts in funds to hire police officers would shift more of the cost of hiring these officers to state and local budgets.”
A Romney/Ryan budget means a return to the Bush policies that made the disaster of Hurricane Katrina possible. It means cuts not only to FEMA, but to federal organizations that track severe weather, so that we can better prepare for their impact. Is that the kind of future we want for America? I know that the Libertarian fantasy of the rugged individual standing up to such challenges unimpeded by ineffective government is an attractive one to some, but, at some point, we need to grow up and face the reality, as Governor Christie apparently has, that we created the federal government for a reason.
Romney friend and Republican anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist once famously stated, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” Unfortunately, though, as Hurricane Katrina showed us, it’s not just the government that drowns these policies are put in place.