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Bernie Sanders: Ron Paul is ‘out to lunch’ on opposition to FEMA’s existence

While discussing how recent natural phenomenon have ravaged his state and others, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) criticized U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) for his statements against the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Saying that “we are a nation, not 50 individual states” and that when a disaster hits “we, as Americans, stand together,” Sanders described Paul’s assertion that government should remove itself from the disaster response business as the GOP presidential hopeful being “completely out to lunch” on the issue.

“That’s what being a nation is all about,” Sanders said.

Although Sanders’ comments to CNN (embedded below) came in the wake of Hurricane Irene slamming the nation’s east coast, Paul, a Republican with a distinct libertarian bent, has long held that FEMA and other government programs should be eliminated. His latest remark came on Fox News Sunday, when he told Chris Wallace that “FEMA has been around since 1978, it has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever.

“It’s a system of bureaucratic central economic planning, which is a policy that is deeply flawed,” said Paul.

Paul has previously argued that FEMA assistance following hurricanes in along the Gulf of Mexico created a sense of dependency that helped ruin local economies — a charge he repeated on Sunday.

“We’ve conditioned our people that FEMA will take care of us and everything will be OK, but you try to make these programs work the best you can, but you can’t just keep saying, ‘Oh, they need money,’” Paul said, adding “this country is bankrupt.”

Instead of continuing to provide assistance through FEMA, Paul suggested an immediate end to U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, earmarking half of the funds saved for deficit reduction and the other half to “tide people over until we come to our senses.”

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