Sandy response brings bipartisan support for government

By Eric Katz

October 31, 2012

The role of federal government has always been a source of contention among politicians and this year’s upcoming election may have only amplified the discord.

Republicans largely have been critical of government’s role. During the first presidential debate, GOP nominee Mitt Romney derided Obama’s approach as “trickle-down government.” Romney also claimed federal employees are overpaid by 30 percent to 40 percent. The Republican Party platform calls for a 10 percent cut in the federal workforce.

Hurricane Sandy, however, has brought a new tone -- on both sides of the aisle.

Chris Christie, Republican governor of New Jersey, offered unsolicited praise of President Obama, his administration and specifically the role the Federal Emergency Management Agency has played in his state.

"I have to say, the administration, the president himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far," Christie said in the storm’s aftermath.

He took to Twitter to add, “I have confidence that we will have support from the president and federal authorities.”

Michael Bloomberg, the independent mayor of New York City, also had kind things to say about the federal response to Sandy.

“You know, there was a lot of criticism with [FEMA] back in the Katrina days, and today, you hear nothing but good things about FEMA, and they certainly have been very helpful to us," he said.

Bob McDonnell, Republican governor of Virginia, praised the speed at which government has moved. “To get a disaster declaration in literally a matter of hours is almost unprecedented,” McDonnell said.

Jeb Bush, former Republican governor of Florida, presided over Fugate when the current FEMA administrator was the head of the Florida Division of Emergency Management and said the nation is in good hands.

“If I were President Obama, I’d be very secure in the knowledge that [Fugate is] there handling things,” Bush said recently. He added Fugate is an “experienced and talented” crisis leader.

Democrats, too, have had nothing but good things to say about the emergency response agency.

“FEMA has been extremely helpful and has been embedded with us at the emergency operations center since before Sandy hit the state,” said Takirra Winfield, press secretary for Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md. She added FEMA’s resources “have been a tremendous asset in Maryland.”

By Eric Katz

October 31, 2012