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CNN "Anderson Cooper 360" - Transcript


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COOPER: Congressman Ron Paul, presidential candidate Ron Paul joins us now.

Thanks so much for being with us, sir.

So, you say we don't need FEMA. Why?

PAUL: Well, we've only had it since 1979. And they don't have a very good record. I mean, these natural disasters are very, very dangerous. So, I don't understand why we turn it over to a federal bureaucracy.

Federal bureaucracies as a whole don't do a very good job, but FEMA has the worst reputation of almost any of them. And I live on the Gulf Coast. And I have had the same position all the time. And we've had hurricanes and disasters. And I get so many calls. I have had more calls on FEMA, being upset with FEMA than all the other agencies put together.

You know, when we had Katrina going into New Orleans, they need ice. So FEMA ordered ice from the northeast. They ordered 211 million pounds of ice. It traveled for two weeks and they finally ended up in Nebraska. And they never got it. That's a typical way of how FEMA works.

If you want efficiency, why don't we look at how thing were handled before we had FEMA. Now the department of homeland security, and they just don't -- but really, my big -- go ahead. I do have another bigger gripe.

COOPER: Let me just say. I mean, we reported, I reported extensively on the failings of FEMA during Katrina that the trailers, the ice. But, I mean they also had body recovery teams on the ground very quickly before other people. And that was a FEMA response. I mean they do have expertise in some areas that some states don't. I mean, if you had left everything up to Louisiana officials during Katrina, probably more people would have died.

PAUL: Well, that remains to be seen.

COOPER: The Louisiana officials were certainly not up to the task.

PAUL: Well, the thing of it is, you create more hazard by the government by saying, well, the government, you pay this and the government will be there. They'll always be there to take care of you and pay your bills. Well, they're broke. They can't pay their bills.

But the worst part about it is an economic consequence of saying, well, I can't afford my insurance. And these are usually -- a lot of them are middle-class people have their beach houses. And they don't -- they can't get their insurance because it is costly so the government guarantees it. So they give a reason for people to do dumb things. They build into places that the market says don't build here. It is too dangerous. And then there's flood and all these problems. And then when Katrina hit, some of the Guard units around the country that could have been helpful, they were over fighting wars in the Middle East. So it is such gross distortion.

Things weren't as bad as it pretended to be. Before 1979, without FEMA, it wasn't -- it wasn't disasters. Go and show me where there was much worse care before FEMA. And I don't think you can give me any of those indications.

COOPER: You talked about going back to 1900. Way before something like FEMA was around. But in Galveston which I think is part of your district, you know wasn't it, it was FEMA who rebuilt it. They needed FEMA to -- I'm sorry. There wasn't a seawall in Galveston before the storm.

And it wasn't, they need to rebuild because locals there decided it was too expensive for them to cover all that on their own using local funds. And because they didn't, 6,000 people died in that storm. I mean, if FEMA were abolished, wouldn't you be setting the stage for life or death conditions in poor areas of the country?

PAUL: No. My point wasn't -- I pointed out in 1900, Galveston, which is in my district, they survived without FEMA and they did rebuild the city and it was mostly local funds, probably some state funds in.


COOPER: Right, but there was not a seawall there because they decided to gamble because it was too expensive. If you had a federal government who was involved, wouldn't that be...

PAUL: Anderson, Anderson, wait a minute. The seawall was built shortly there after. FEMA didn't build the seawall in 1979. That has been around a long, long time. You didn't need FEMA to build it. And just think of the management of all the levees in the country. Now they're starting to study even the levees on the river are probably making our floods much worse. The levees in...

COOPER: You're saying there is no role the federal government should play.

PAUL: Let me over, let me, let me finish. They were all built by the federal government and they failed. So the federal government had a lot of responsibility for the creation of the mess in New Orleans.

COOPER: So, you don't think there is any role for the federal government in disaster response? Or do you?

PAUL: Rescue operations, I think so.

As a matter of fact, my approach, I think was a very modest and reasonable approach when they came for funds even today or back when we got hit at Galveston. I said I will vote for the funds, but you have got to cut it. We're broke. The economic condition of this country is dire. So you cut $2 billion from overseas. Put $1 billion against the deficit. Put $1 billion into helping the people that we taught to be dependent on the federal government. So I think that's very reasonable.

But to say, oh, it's endless, the government will take care of us and we're broke and we're in the midst of this economic crisis which is going to get a lot worse and not be concerned about it and say, oh, well, the people need it, well, I mean from the start of FEMA being involved and taking over land control, and taking over this management, they aren't very efficient. They're very inefficient.

They give no-bid contracts. Big corporations make a lot of money on this. They would have been better of in Katrina if they would have just written a check to everybody and not gotten involved in all the mess that they did. They handed out checks to people that didn't even live there.

I don't know how anybody could defend the inefficiency of what went with Katrina. It really hasn't changed. It is part of the Department of Homeland Security. And all you have to do is look at the TSA. That's another favorite bureaucracy that the American people don't like either.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Ron Paul, I appreciate your time, as always. Thank you, sir.


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