With hundreds of thousands of people still dealing with major disruptions in lower Manhattan, Walter Russell Mead makes an excellent point about Big Government failing to heed years of warnings and at least reduce the risks of flooding there:
Here in New York we have a very busy government. It’s worried about the kinds of fats we eat and the size of the soft drinks we buy, and there is no shortage of regulations affecting businesses, street vendors, and individuals. But in all this exciting fine tuning, nobody seems to have bothered to think about the much greater task of keeping floodwaters out of the subway system. Admittedly, getting public support and finding the money for flood protection would be hard, but it is exactly that kind of hard job that governments are supposed to do. Leadership is getting the important things done, not looking busy on secondary tasks while the real needs of the city go quietly unmet.
Instead of focusing on what are really personal issues, perhaps Nanny Bloomberg could deign to spend some time on tasks that really do require city-wide planning and effort. That sort of thing applies at all levels of government too, which is also why Romney is correct to say that FEMA and other federal agencies should not do what local and state governments can handle themselves.
If you look at New York and New Jersey right now, who is doing the heavy lifting of recovery anyway? It's local government and utility workers with state officials helping to fill the gaps. There's a role there for FEMA too and Romney does not deny that, contrary to some of the lying demagogues out there, but FEMA is not the primary agency involved nor should it be.