CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- During a GOP presidential primary debate, Mitt Romney said the Federal Emergency Management Agency, America's chief defense against natural disasters, "absolutely" should be abolished. He said responsibility for rescuing Americans from hurricanes, earthquakes, twisters, floods and the like should be turned over to states -- "and if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better."
Good grief. This is lunacy. Imagine what would happen if coping with the nightmare of Hurricane Sandy were left to for-profit corporations. Families losing their homes and jobs would be forced to hire private contractors -- with what? Hospitals without power would need to call profit-seeking contractors to relocate patients.
This week's "Frankenstorm" shows the irrationality of Romney's prescription. Would pumping out New York's flooded subways be left to the state legislature or corporations?
Republicans in Congress try endlessly to slash FEMA's budget. During the past two years, they forced a 43 percent cut in FEMA grants for disaster preparations. The Paul Ryan budget passed by House Republicans would slash FEMA further. Romney called the Ryan budget "an excellent piece of work."
At an Ohio campaign stop Tuesday, the GOP nominee repeatedly refused to answer reporter questions asking whether he still would eliminate FEMA.
As the Northeast struggles to restore life after the monster storm, Romney and Ryan look like fools.