Wednesday, October 31, 2012

'I Want To Cut FEMA!'- Who Said That?

MSNBC Talk Show Host Going Bonkers
Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and some other left-leaning writers (dare we call any of them true 'journalists' any longer?) tried to assert in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that Governor Romney said this in 2011 during one of the pre-pre-debates on the GOP side: 'I want to cut FEMA!'

Talk about politicizing a natural disaster where millions of people have been displaced and hundreds have been killed by this massive once-in-a-lifetime storm. The media is the worst at it, bar none, hands-down. Forget the politicians. They are mere pikers when it comes to being 'insensitive' at times like these.

Anyway, care to guess who actually has a budget proposal now pending in the US Congress to 'cut FEMA' as we know it?

Right.  President Barack Hussein Obama. The same man who is now trying desperately to hold onto the White House by a shred now that Govenor Romney has launched ads in the previously-considered blue 'safe strongholds' of Michigan, Minnesota and the big prize in all of this, Pennsylvania with its 20 electoral votes versus 'only' the 18 of Ohio.

Here it is in black-and-white ripped straight from his FY 2013 Budget Submission to Congress.  Click on this link and see for is written in as plain English as any convoluted budget document can possibly be in the first place.

Here's what we received late yesterday from one of our loyal readers who appears to have become a budget wonk over these past 4 years.  (If it comes from reading Telemachus, we sincerely apologize and recommend going to 'Budget Wonks Anonymous'...cause you probably need help)
'I do not have Washington expertise to understand their budgets, but stumbled on the attached excerpt from what appears to be FEMA's own budget summary.

And on page 152 is a chart labeled as Budget Request.  That chart has a column for FY 2013 Pres. budget.

Looking at the numbers in the FY 2013 Pres. budget it would appear that he is proposing: 

  • A decrease of 695 federal workers in FEMA compared to the enacted FY 2012 budget.
  • A $242 million reduction for salaries and expenses (presumably at the federal level) compared to the enacted FY 2012 budget
  • A nearly $1 billion decrease in the Disaster Relief Fund compared to FY 2012 budget
  • A $1.6 billion increase of funds for State and Local Programs.
In other words, Obama is reducing funding at the federal level for FEMA and shifting more funds into state and local programs just as Romney suggested should be done.

I'm sure liberal columnists would never look at the type of document I'm attaching for your perusal and opinion.  But before I would try to point out the silliness of their talking points I wanted to make sure I was reading Washington budget jargon correctly.'
He was reading it correctly. Good for him. Maybe he should consider becoming a journalist because he actually did his research and homework and got some corroboration before opening his mouth and inserting his foot in it.

Before you buy into anything the chattering head, blathering, blithering, blabbering 'personalities' on cable talk shows are feeding you, including the esteemed Mr. Robinson, do a little fact-checking of your own on this FEMA thing.

No one would ever want to do away with emergency help during natural disasters.  That would be clearly idiotic.

However, there are ways to make FEMA more efficient and more responsible in terms of the use of taxpayer funds (normally called 'your taxes') just as there ways to make every single solitary federal program more efficient and responsive in the entire US federal budget, as we have been describing over these past 4 years.

One common-sensical way would be to anticipate the annual expense of cleaning up after these natural disasters; budget for them and set aside say, $1 billion per year.  Make it $2 billion.  That would be approximately .0055% of the annual federal budget.

'Decimal dust' in Washington federal budget parlance.

Most of the cost of cleaning up and rebuilding places after a natural disaster comes from, yes, you guessed it, 'the same old 'mean' insurance companies that everyone likes to complain about...until they need them.

The great thing is if we would actually budget for FEMA repair and support this way with some annual foresight and careful planning, in the years where we fortunately do not have as many natural disasters (such as 2012 come to think of it before Sandy came barreling along late in the year), we could sock the surplus funds away in some sort of contingency fund and then use it when the natural disasters occur in the future.

Because one thing you can count in Washington: 'If you don't count on it happening, it will happen.'

We could even truly reform the FEMA emergency disaster relief program into some truly modern program whereby the US government could use these surplus funds to augment and supplement a true 'insurance fund' whereby the nation's insurers and secondary re-insurers across the globe could participate to mitigate the costs of any natural disaster whenever it occurs.

The main reason why this has not happened yet?  Because legislators 'love a good crisis' as Obama's first chief of staff Rahm Emanuel once famously said.

Whenever a Hurricane Sandy hits, legislators start rubbing their hands together because they know that Congress is about to pass a massive spending bill, one in which they might be able to tuck a non-pertinent, non-germane appropriations for their home district that they failed to get done on a regular appropriations bill.

When Hurricane Isabel hit North Carolina in 2003, we saw stuff going in that 'emergency appropriation' that had something to do with pig-farming in Arkansas or somewhere.  We are not kidding.  And we know Hurricane Isabel didn't flood any pig-farm way out in Arkansas 1000 miles away.

So before you listen to any commentator go bonkers over anything Mitt Romney has said about FEMA, take a look at President Obama's very own budget submission above.

And think to yourself: 'Who would I rather have looking at these federal budgets and programs anyway in the first place:  a former community organizer who has helped ring up the bell for close to $6 trillion in new debt in just under 4 years or a former businessman turned governor who knows what the heck a balance sheet and a budget are supposed to do in the first place?

We think you will come to the right conclusion.

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