When the going gets tough, the tough call FEMAon October 30, 2012 @ 8:12 am (Updated: 8:45 am - 10/30/12 )
A number of other realities emerged too - the warm waters of the Atlantic spawned both a monster hurricane and a blizzard. The map of the storm surge inundating lower Manhattan looked eerily similar to Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.
And even though the federal government remains deeply in debt, no one's questioning FEMA's generosity.
A year ago there was a movement among Tea Party Republicans to insist on offsetting budget cuts to pay for federal disaster relief, and Mitt Romney himself tackled the question last December.
"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," Romney said.
He wasn't saying abolish FEMA, only that state governments ought to take charge, which they have.
But Romney was clearly saying that they should also pay for it. And yet even a tough fiscal conservative like Chris Christie - who does he call for money?
"I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president. He has expedited the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area," Christie said.
That means New Jersey gets loans and outright grants to rebuild homes, rent for displaced families, unemployment benefits if your workplace was destroyed, even cash-flow loans for small businesses - all paid for by the federal government.
Of course the states are certainly free to repay all that. We'll see.
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