Mitt Romney is justly under fire for his comments – recently highlighted by the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim – during the Republican primaries urging that federal authority for disaster relief be handed over to the states or, "even better," to private businesses.
Here is what he told a Republican audience during a primary debate in June 2011 when asked by CNN’s John King if federal authority for disaster relief should be handled by the states:
King: … I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?
Romney: Absolutely. 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. (emphasis added)
Romney went so far as to call federal spending on disaster relief "immoral" because it adds to the national debt.
Personally, I’m glad that when Americans facing natural disasters are in need of massive amounts of assistance, we can muster our collective power through government to provide that relief.
And I’m glad that relief is being provided by an entity whose bottom line isn’t the bottom line, but the public welfare. For-profit companies exist to make money, not to promote the general welfare. If their profit-making behavior happens to benefit the public, that’s gravy. But we see every day that corporations put their interests ahead of ours whenever they can. That’s what they do.
For more about the efforts of the corporate right to surrender the public good to the private benefit of the 1%, see People For the American Way’s recently issued report on Predatory Privatization.
As Mitt Romney’s statement about FEMA shows, he is not one to allow the public welfare to get in the way of corporate profits.