Storm during election

Obama and Romney offer contrasting views of the federal government's role

The fact that Hurricane Sandy made landfall a few days before the presidential election gives us an opportunity to compare the points of view of the candidates regarding natural disasters.

We know that President Obama believes that the federal government has a role to play, especially in helping victims of a weather disaster through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The position of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on this is not very clear. In this case, like in many others, the former Massachusetts governor has radically shifted positions between the primaries and now.

Romney said last year, during a debate of GOP candidates, that disaster aid was an expense that jeopardized “the future for our kids.” He also said that it is good when the federal government sends help to the states, but if you can “send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”

At any rate, the Romney campaign has already given a new interpretation to what the candidate said a few months ago. Federal aid is no longer “immoral,” as the candidate called it before, and there are no more references to the function of the private sector.

Which one is the true Romney: the one from the Republican debate or the moderate version of today that contradicts yesterday’s candidate?

On this issue, it is reasonable to think that the real position is the earlier one. Romney for a long time has espoused the extremist belief that the solution to all problems is the private sector operating in a free market.

The private sector’s goal is to obtain profits, not to selflessly help disaster victims.

As we have said before, we think that the federal government has a function in the overall well-being, without having to be welfare-oriented. Helping victims of Hurricane Sandy is an example of the need for this type of work.