Republicans in the Senate today introduced a bill to abolish FEMA, the agency of the federal government which coordinates responses to natural disasters.
The proposed legislation would immediately halt all the agency's work, lay off its employees, and use the money saved to finance a tax credit for oil and gas production in national parks.
In a speech on the Senate floor the bill's sponsor, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, argued that despite the recent spate of tragic tornado strikes in Oklahoma, disaster relief shouldn't be the federal government's business.
"FEMA is just one more example of Big Government run amok," he explained. "Sure it sounds good. Who wouldn't be against so-called disaster relief? But we're paying for this program with money borrowed from China, driving our country deeper into debt. That's the real disaster.
"I suppose people need help in times like these. And if individual states want to set up disaster relief agencies, that's fine. But why should taxpayers in other states be forced to pay? Kentucky doesn't have earthquakes. Kentucky doesn't have hurricanes. Kentucky doesn't have tornadoes, I don't think. So why are we footing the bill for this stuff?"
Republicans have long had an interest in disbanding FEMA, an agency that most Americans believe fulfills a necessary role of government. Presidential nominee Mitt Romney famously said he wanted to "eliminate" the agency before reversing himself following a public furor.
Republican Rep. Ron Paul led a long crusade in Congress to do the same, once claiming that the agency was a "a system of bureaucratic central economic planning."
Rand Paul, who is Congressman Paul's son, has in the past said he doesn't believe FEMA is worth paying for with borrowed money. He went further today, arguing that the time had come for its complete dismantlement.
"It used to be that churches and volunteers handled natural disasters," he lamented. "Nowadays we have teams of so-called experts and scientists and professional disaster relief engineers.
"It's dangerous to stop depending on your friends and neighbors and start depending on the cold, long arm of the federal government. I can't think of anything my local pastor and a couple of strong young men can't handle. Can you?"
Although local first responders and volunteers have been essential, FEMA has largely been praised for its efforts in Oklahoma so far, with its urban search and rescue teams being credited with helping find survivors.
"Rand Paul is a f*****g idiot," says Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, whose tiny state sits astride a hurricane zone. "The federal government, by pooling resources and exploiting economies of scale, can do disaster relief more efficiently the the individual states alone.
"If this arrogant douchebag got his head out of Ayn Rand's ass long enough to see two feet in front of him, maybe he'd understand how important this work is."