After days of pushing their anti-federal disaster relief message ahead of and during Hurricane Irene, it is no surprise that Fox News gave nearly 14 minutes of airtime to Ron Paul today.
Here is the video from Fox News:
When asked about abolishing FEMA, the 2012 GOP presidential candidate said,
Have you ever read the reports that came out of New Orleans and all those wonderful things they did? Giving checks to people who didn’t even live there? Sending in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trailers that they had to junk because they didn’t meet FEMA’s standards? No. It’s a system of bureaucratic central economic planning which is a policy which is deeply flawed. So no, you don’t get rid of something like that in one day. As a matter of fact, I’ve had this position for a long time and people keep reelecting me, and I have a coastal district. But, I’ve also suggested that there are different ways to finance this too, because actually FEMA’s in big trouble financially.
Their flood program is about $20 billion in debt, so it’s deeply flawed, but even back then when I refused to vote for the bailout money, because we didn’t have any money. I mean, this idea that government can just bail out everybody and vote for money — but I propose that we save a billion dollars from the overseas war-mongering, bring half that home and put it against the deficit, and yes, tide people over until we come to our senses and realize that FEMA’s been around since 1978. It has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever.
I win elections because I fight for the constituents to overcome the bureaucracy You can’t imagine how many calls we get because FEMA’s getting in the way and they can’t get their checks, they can’t get their bailouts. Then these checks go to you know contractors, and the people don’t end up with the money, the contractors end up with the money, sometimes in no bid contracts. Anybody who wants to defend this department and this agency, they have a tough argument to argue for.
As Rep. Paul said, he has held these positions for years. There is no surprise in the news that Ron Paul thinks disaster relief is a bailout, and wants to get rid of FEMA. The question is, why would Fox News, a network that seems to spend most of their time trying to figure out new ways to marginalize and ignore Ron Paul decide that today is the perfect day to give him a segment on Fox News Sunday?
The answer can found in FNC’s recent pushing of the idea that Hurricane Irene aid is equivalent to an economic stimulus. Fox News has been defending Eric Cantor’s plan to hold hurricane relief hostage in exchange for spending cuts:
Of course, Fox News isn’t the only one. On Friday, former Fox employee Glenn Beck blew a gasket over the idea that the federal government is going to provide assistance to the victims of Hurricane Irene. It is interesting that the example of FEMA failure that critics like Paul always refer to was the Bush era FEMA.
George W. Bush’s philosophy on disaster relief was one that Ron Paul agrees with. Bush took FEMA’s cabinet status away, and turned them into a sub agency in the Department of Homeland Security. After 9/11, FEMA role was changed from disaster relief to responding to terrorist attacks. From the time they took office, the Bushies set out to deconstruct FEMA. They did exactly what Ron Paul is currently advocating.
The Bush administration took the federal government out of the disaster relief business, and placed state and local officials in the lead. Bush dismantled the “FEMA bureaucracy” that Ron Paul was talking about on Fox News. No longer was their close disaster response coordination between the federal, state, and local governments, and when Katrina struck the consequences of this ideological decision proved fatal.
It was hypocritical for Ron Paul to call FEMA a failure based on Katrina, when the agency had been gutted by the same ideology that he is now advocating. FEMA was widely praised for their responses to disasters under George HW Bush and Bill Clinton, but that praise morphed into criticism when George W. Bush took the federal government out of disaster relief. Obama has restored FEMA’s disaster relief mission, and praise for the agency has returned.
Fox News had no time for Ron Paul until they needed a far right messenger to champion the wildly unpopular idea that the federal government has no role in disaster relief. What Fox did today was use Ron Paul to lay the groundwork for their opposition to aid for the victims of Irene unless it is accompanied by spending cuts.
Fox News got exactly what they wanted out of Ron Paul this morning. Now they can go back to ignoring him, and his candidacy.