Debate over FEMA Disaster Aid: Federal vs. State and Local

A New York Times editorial published in the midst of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation has received a good deal of attention. The article argued that “A Big Storm Requires Big Government,” politicizing and distorting calls for reform of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A response by The Wall Street Journal, however, sought to set the debate straight.

While the Times tried to argue that conservatives essentially want to eliminate FEMA and place disaster response solely in the hands of the states, the Journal wrote:

This isn’t an argument for abolishing FEMA so much as it is for the traditional federalist view that the feds shouldn’t supplant state action. As it happens, the response to Hurricane Sandy has been a model of such a division of responsibility.

Citizens in the Northeast aren’t turning on their TVs, if they have electricity, to hear Mr. Obama opine about subway flooding. They’re tuning in to hear Governor Chris Christie talk about the damage to the Jersey shore, Mayor Mike Bloomberg tell them when bus service might resume in New York City, and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy say when the state’s highways might reopen.

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