Ron Paul has always been a man who spoke his mind. But as Hurricane Irene battered the East Coast, his latest comments are sure to stir a storm of controversy.
The Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate told CNN that the nation would be much better off without the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the government entity that handles disaster relief.
"I live on the Gulf Coast. We put up with hurricanes all the time," Paul told the cable news network. "There's no magic about FEMA. More and more people are starting to recognize that."
Paul said that after the historic 1900 hurricane wiped out most of Galveston, the seawall was built without federal government help. "FEMA is not a good friend of most people in Texas," Paul said. "All they do is come in and tell you what to do and can't do. You can't get in your houses. And they hinder the local people, and they hinder volunteers from going in."
The agency, which has more than 7,600 employees, was harshly criticized over its handling of the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But since then, it has by and large earned praise for subsequent handling of hurricane relief.
After Hurricane Ike slammed into the Houston area in 2008, Paul voted against a bill that would aid his congressional district, which includes parts of suburban Houston. FEMA has since pumped more than $3 billion in federal funds into Texas, according to the CNN report.
Do you agree with Paul? Is FEMA needed?