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Romney-Ryan: Send FEMA "Back to the Private Sector"

As Sandy bears down, campaign confirms support for position

Common Dreams staff

A spokesman for Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan confirmed Sunday to the Huffington Post their support for sending the responsibility for emergency disaster relief back to the states or privatizing the system. Photo courtesy Romney/Ryan campaign.

As Hurricane Sandy slams into the East Coast, sending millions evacuating to shelters and slated to leave massive destruction in its wake, Republican President Candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, on Monday confirmed the ticket's position that federal emergency disaster response should be privatized.

"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," Aviva Shen wrote Monday in Think Progress. "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."

In a speech during the GOP primary, Romney said responsibilties borne by the federal government should be "sent back to the states . and if you can go even further and send idt back to the private sector, that's even better."

Asked by moderator John King if that included disaster relief, Romney continued, "We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids."

Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post reported Sunday that a Romney spokesman confirmed this remains Romney's position, noting in an email, ""Gov. Romney wants to ensure states, who are the first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities, have the resources and assistance they need to cope with natural disasters."

GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) initially proposed the controversial plan to require that funding for disaster relief be offset with cuts elsewhere — despite opposition even from his own party, The Hill reported.

But "Romney and Ryan have repeatedly made it clear they agree with Cantor's position," Scott Keyes wrote Sunday in Think Progress.

Drum, in Mother Jones, concludes that it's impossible to know if a Romney/Ryan administration would actually cut funding for FEMA, but notes, "as president, (Romney) probably wouldn't dare cross Cantor either."

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