ABC News' Jason Volack reports:
With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the East Coast and taking direct aim at America’s biggest city, who needs the Federal Emergency Management Agency anyway?
At least that’s the question that presidential candidate Ron Paul raised today at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, just hours before the storm was expected to begin inflicting heavy damage up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
"We should be like 1900. We should be like 1940, 1950, 1960," Paul told a reporter for NBC News after a lunch-time speech in Gilford, N.H. "I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.”
"There's no magic about FEMA. They're a great contribution to deficit financing and quite frankly they don't have a penny in the bank. We should be coordinated but coordinated voluntarily with the states," Paul said. "A state can decide. We don't need somebody in Washington."
This isn’t the first time the libertarian-leaning Texas Congressman had made controversial remarks regarding FEMA. In a May 13 interview with CNN, Paul called for the elimination of the agency.
“Why should somebody from the central part of the United States rebuild my house? Why shouldn't I have to buy my own insurance and protect about the potential dangers,” Paul said. “Well, the reason we don't have market insurance is it's too expensive. Well, why is it expensive? Because it's dangerous. Well, so why should – why should we take money from somebody else who don't get the chance to live on the Gulf and make them pay to rebuild my house?”
FEMA’s primary job is to coordinate the response to a major disaster. The agency also provides state and local governments with experts in specialized fields and assists individuals and businesses with low interest loans for rebuilding.
To receive FEMA’s help – a state my declare a state of emergency and request help from the president. The agency directed relief for both Hurricane’s Andrew in 1992 and Katrina in 2005.
The campaign did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.