FEMA Apologists Unite

After Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, the floodgates of the Left’s self-righteous wrath have opened with similar fury. Among all the howling, President Trump requested Congress to approve a $7.85 billion down payment for disaster relief, most of which are meant to fill the coffers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund. The original plan to cut FEMA’s budget by $876 million to free up resources for national security priorities such as the border wall was already on the verge of being repealed. But with the new funding request being pegged to raising the debt ceiling, Democrats have positioned themselves to stifle any debate about fiscal responsibility.

As it stands now, Democrats can hit two birds with one stone and push through two of their main agendas – a higher debt ceiling and the continued funding of a dysfunctional federal agency. With budget and debt ceilings approaching at the end of the month, the Left is willingly pushing the U.S. into financial ruin.

Trump’s decision may be motivated by the desire to avoid a drawn-out congressional standoff over the upcoming budget and debt ceiling, for which he needs Democrat support. Unfortunately, it also set him on a collision course with the House Freedom Caucus, whose members have already made it clear they will not such support fiscal maneuvering. And rightfully so: with U.S. debt standing at almost $20 trillion, thanks in large part due to Obama’s generous $836 billion giveaway in 2009, the U.S. needs fiscally responsible structural reforms more than anything else.

To no one’s surprise, liberals are not concerned with such matters, willfully ignoring that the entire argument for greater government involvement in disaster relief stands on more than shaky feet. However, blinded by their gleeful I-told-you-so-attitude they fail to see the irony that FEMA itself is the best example of this. FEMA has been one of the main hooks for Trump-bashing from the big government crowd. Yet while projects relating to national security are worth their funding, throwing billions of dollars at an organization as underperforming as FEMA is not. Harvey’s estimated costs of more than $100 billion are drowning out FEMA’s capabilities, and pouring government money into the sieve that is our current emergency relief infrastructure will not change that.

The fact that FEMA is extraordinarily bad at doing what it is supposed to should be reason enough for normal, rationally thinking people to upend its ability to wreak havoc on the budget. Originally designed to provide grants to uninsured homeowners for emergency repairs, the agency doesn’t provide long-term recovery loans to those in need, and massive red tape has often hindered relief efforts rather than aid them. Now, the agency is already faltering under Harvey-induced pressure. It has begun referring the needy to the Small Business Administration to apply for loans in their search for long-term recovery assistance. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner vented his frustration with FEMA’s penchant for bureaucratic delays, calling on the organization to step up efforts as tens of thousands of people wallow in emergency shelters.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) had to be bailed out to reduce its debt load to just under $18 billion. Then, following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the NFIP was $24 billion in debt, and had to be kept afloat with another payout package when losses were projected to reach $12 billion, far exceeding the NFIP’s borrowing capacity of $2.9 billion. Such damage estimates were only a fraction of the projected cost of Hurricane Harvey, which begs the question: does FEMA expect a handout for every disaster, no matter what the price tag?

The worshippers of the god of big government would gladly respond with a resounding “Yes,” but one mustn’t forget that Trump’s budget proposal published in March still stands. Cutting 9% from public funds, it’s part of a long-term plan to make the government leaner and get the private sector to shoulder greater responsibility. In what can rightfully be regarded as a plea for help in handling the situation, FEMA chief William Long recently reiterated Trump’s goal to form public-private partnerships (PPPs) in disaster relief efforts.

The private sector has already proved itself more effective in urgent situations than the federal government, especially when supplies are needed to alleviate suffering, or prevent and contain the spread of infectious diseases. With Harvey-related flooding increasing the risk of cholera infections, it’s worth remembering how, following Katrina, various enterprises stepped in to pick up the slack where federal authorities failed. Walmart’s supply chain and distribution system delivered supplies to locations where the government had little to no reach. And by leveraging its expertise and resources, Walmart was able to prevent a cholera outbreak as the federal response floundered.

Other countries have been relying on PPPs for years to respond effectively to national catastrophes. In Guinea, a treatment and research center was built by mining operator Rusal to help the government fight the 2014 Ebola epidemic. Three years later, that same center is now running a vaccination program to test a new vaccine against the virus that will continue into 2018. In Thailand’s 2011 floods, Honda partnered with the Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), in providing its vehicles for disaster management activities. The company also trained local communities on best practices in dealing with future natural disaster.

The left is short-sighted in its clamoring for greater funding for government agencies. Past emergency responses illustrate that America’s private sector is fully capable of coordinating with Texas policymakers to deliver a more efficient, cost-effective relief effort. Hurricane Harvey is an opportunity for America to implement a new private-sector driven system of emergency relief, one free of red tape and the trappings of government bureaucracy. 

After Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, the floodgates of the Left’s self-righteous wrath have opened with similar fury. Among all the howling, President Trump requested Congress to approve a $7.85 billion down payment for disaster relief, most of which are meant to fill the coffers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund. The original plan to cut FEMA’s budget by $876 million to free up resources for national security priorities such as the border wall was already on the verge of being repealed. But with the new funding request being pegged to raising the debt ceiling, Democrats have positioned themselves to stifle any debate about fiscal responsibility.

As it stands now, Democrats can hit two birds with one stone and push through two of their main agendas – a higher debt ceiling and the continued funding of a dysfunctional federal agency. With budget and debt ceilings approaching at the end of the month, the Left is willingly pushing the U.S. into financial ruin.

Trump’s decision may be motivated by the desire to avoid a drawn-out congressional standoff over the upcoming budget and debt ceiling, for which he needs Democrat support. Unfortunately, it also set him on a collision course with the House Freedom Caucus, whose members have already made it clear they will not such support fiscal maneuvering. And rightfully so: with U.S. debt standing at almost $20 trillion, thanks in large part due to Obama’s generous $836 billion giveaway in 2009, the U.S. needs fiscally responsible structural reforms more than anything else.

To no one’s surprise, liberals are not concerned with such matters, willfully ignoring that the entire argument for greater government involvement in disaster relief stands on more than shaky feet. However, blinded by their gleeful I-told-you-so-attitude they fail to see the irony that FEMA itself is the best example of this. FEMA has been one of the main hooks for Trump-bashing from the big government crowd. Yet while projects relating to national security are worth their funding, throwing billions of dollars at an organization as underperforming as FEMA is not. Harvey’s estimated costs of more than $100 billion are drowning out FEMA’s capabilities, and pouring government money into the sieve that is our current emergency relief infrastructure will not change that.

The fact that FEMA is extraordinarily bad at doing what it is supposed to should be reason enough for normal, rationally thinking people to upend its ability to wreak havoc on the budget. Originally designed to provide grants to uninsured homeowners for emergency repairs, the agency doesn’t provide long-term recovery loans to those in need, and massive red tape has often hindered relief efforts rather than aid them. Now, the agency is already faltering under Harvey-induced pressure. It has begun referring the needy to the Small Business Administration to apply for loans in their search for long-term recovery assistance. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner vented his frustration with FEMA’s penchant for bureaucratic delays, calling on the organization to step up efforts as tens of thousands of people wallow in emergency shelters.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) had to be bailed out to reduce its debt load to just under $18 billion. Then, following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the NFIP was $24 billion in debt, and had to be kept afloat with another payout package when losses were projected to reach $12 billion, far exceeding the NFIP’s borrowing capacity of $2.9 billion. Such damage estimates were only a fraction of the projected cost of Hurricane Harvey, which begs the question: does FEMA expect a handout for every disaster, no matter what the price tag?

The worshippers of the god of big government would gladly respond with a resounding “Yes,” but one mustn’t forget that Trump’s budget proposal published in March still stands. Cutting 9% from public funds, it’s part of a long-term plan to make the government leaner and get the private sector to shoulder greater responsibility. In what can rightfully be regarded as a plea for help in handling the situation, FEMA chief William Long recently reiterated Trump’s goal to form public-private partnerships (PPPs) in disaster relief efforts.

The private sector has already proved itself more effective in urgent situations than the federal government, especially when supplies are needed to alleviate suffering, or prevent and contain the spread of infectious diseases. With Harvey-related flooding increasing the risk of cholera infections, it’s worth remembering how, following Katrina, various enterprises stepped in to pick up the slack where federal authorities failed. Walmart’s supply chain and distribution system delivered supplies to locations where the government had little to no reach. And by leveraging its expertise and resources, Walmart was able to prevent a cholera outbreak as the federal response floundered.

Other countries have been relying on PPPs for years to respond effectively to national catastrophes. In Guinea, a treatment and research center was built by mining operator Rusal to help the government fight the 2014 Ebola epidemic. Three years later, that same center is now running a vaccination program to test a new vaccine against the virus that will continue into 2018. In Thailand’s 2011 floods, Honda partnered with the Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), in providing its vehicles for disaster management activities. The company also trained local communities on best practices in dealing with future natural disaster.

The left is short-sighted in its clamoring for greater funding for government agencies. Past emergency responses illustrate that America’s private sector is fully capable of coordinating with Texas policymakers to deliver a more efficient, cost-effective relief effort. Hurricane Harvey is an opportunity for America to implement a new private-sector driven system of emergency relief, one free of red tape and the trappings of government bureaucracy. 

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