"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. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that's even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?"When the moderator (John King) reminded Romney that the question asked specifically about federal disaster relief programs, Romney responsded:
"We cannot -- 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."What makes no sense at all is to suggest that the states can do the job of disaster relief more efficiently than the federal government. How would 50 little FEMAs manage to coordinate disaster relief in response to an event like Hurricane Sandy? Common sense tells us that having one agency able to direct resources to the places they are needed has to be less wasteful than putting those resources under the control of fifty different state agencies. The idea of dismantling federal agencies like FEMA and sending those operations to states doesn't seem like a good way to save money at all. It's troubling that Mitt Romney seems willfully blind to the reasons we decided to concentrate resources into federal agencies like FEMA in the first place.
Even worse is the idea that government functions like disaster relief can be performed better by the private sector. In Mitt Romney's world, however, I suppose that works just fine. If the Romney mansion were blown down by a hurricane, his insurance would take care of the damage, and even if it didn't, the Romneys could afford to stay in a nice hotel, or one of their other houses, until repairs were completed. The private sector is not about to provide that kind of disaster relief to most of the victims of a hurricane, however. There is no profit in it.
There is a world view at work here that considers it immoral to rely on the government to help victims of natural disasters or other unfortunate circumstances. Imagine a President Romney responding to hurricane victims who can't afford to help themselves, or to state governments, who don't have sufficient resources to deal with these problems: "Sorry, the federal government can't help you either. The federal government is going to do less, knowing full well that the gap is never going to be made up by strapped state and local governments, or by private companies." That is a kind of morality we can't afford.