Well, it looks like we got our October surprise. The unexpected national issue on everyone’s radar just days ahead of Election Day has come signed, sealed and delivered from Mother Nature herself. Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the final stretch of the election could be huge. There are 1.6 million people currently out of power and evacuation plans in effect. We all wonder: how might this impact early voting and voter turnout on Nov. 6?
But there’s another concern that deserves equal recognition.
Mitt Romney has said that if he is elected, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has to go and states will be fully responsible for their own disaster relief. But guess what? Mother Nature doesn’t stop at state lines. Shifting disaster relief to the cash-strapped state level could be disastrous for states that don’t have the tax base to support disaster relief. Granted, FEMA has room to improve, but eliminating the agency and requiring states to fend for themselves is certainly not the answer. For example, FEMA provided $23.2 million in reimbursements toward Hurricane Isaac recovery alone — could Louisiana have provided the needed disaster relief on its own?
Romney drummed home his position on FEMA during the primary debates when he stated:
“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction.”
Moderator John King asked Romney if his stance included disaster relief, and the candidate responded by stating:
“We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. … It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”
But in true flip-flopping Mitt fashion, Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg came out with a different reaction today when asked about the 2011 comment that FEMA should be eliminated:
“As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.”
So where does Romney really stand? It’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves for months now, and in the face of the disastrous storm that’s churning its way along the eastern seaboard, we’re scratching our heads about it again. For the discussion on Hurricane Sandy, Jennifer Granholm’s perspective on this issue and the latest on the campaign front, tune in tonight for a two-hour special starting at 9E/6P.