Even as the streets of Manhattan were flooding and hundreds of thousands of residents lost power Monday night, the New York Times turned its attention back to national politics. It published a misleading editorial attacking Gov. Romney and in defense of "Big Government."
Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of “big government,” which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it...Mr. Romney not only believes that states acting independently can handle the response to a vast East Coast storm better than Washington, but that profit-making companies can do an even better job. He said it was “immoral” for the federal government to do all these things if it means increasing the debt.
That false charge of wanting to "eliminate" disaster relief is based on a YouTube clip of Romney during one of the primary debates responding to a question about sending responsibility for disaster relief back to the states.
Romney replied that he thought states could handle disaster response and then spoke more generally about what items belonged in the federal budget:
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. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say "What are the things we're doing that we don't have to do?" and those things we've got to stop doing. Because we're borrowing $1.6 trillion dollars more this year than we're taking in. We can not 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. Makes no sense at all.
At one point near the end of Romney's answer moderator John King, who was clearly aware Romney had wandering beyond FEMA, interjected "Including disaster relief though?" But Romney rolled right over him and remained focused on the larger issues of debt, borrowing and the federal budget as a whole.
What the Times did Monday is take Romney's statement about the immorality of our unsustainable debt--something President Obama himself once called "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic"--and suggest this means there would be a no resources to deal with a disaster if Romney had his way.
Actually, the opposite is true. If we fail to control big government spending, as Barack Obama has failed to do, every program eventually gets crowded out in favor of entitlements and payments of interest on debt. This is not an academic exercise. States are facing this dilemma now. Even liberal enclaves like Illinois, New Jersey and Wisconsin are coming around to the necessity of serious reform to stave off looming fiscal disaster. But the Times clearly hasn't caught on to the trend.
The argument for big government is always a simple one. There are needs which must be met now! That's an easy sell, especially during a natural disaster when people are understandably frightened. No doubt that's why the Times published this attack Monday night at the height of the storm.
But Romney is right about the big picture. At some point we need to deal with our immoral, irresponsible and unpatriotic big government spending to ensure we have resources available for future emergencies.