The Political Economy of FEMA Disaster Payments

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The Political Economy of FEMA Disaster Payments

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was established in the year 1979 through President Carter’s executive directive. This directive basically brought together numerous other relief agencies which had been in operation prior to the merge. FEMA serves a central role in the apportionment of federal finance to natural disaster stricken areas. Some of the natural disasters that FEMA’s funds are channeled towards include; hurricanes, tornadoes, severe flooding and earthquakes. However, it also channels funds towards counter activities of minor weather conditions such as ice storms and thunderstorms. Even though FEMA plays a critical role in the management of disasters, its operations are marred by both presidential and congressional influences.

The public choice model, which has been widely implemented on numerous government activities to determine how effective they are, has given rise to the model of congressional dominance. This model postulates that congress has significant influence on bureaus. Weingast (as cited in Garrett and Sobel, 2002) has stated that “…the model suggests that congressional committees having both budget and oversight responsibilities see that bureaucrats implement the policy preferences of the legislators…and that the executive branch behaves as an electoral vote maximize.”

Garrett and Sobel (2002) after in-depth analysis and empirical studies state that congressional and presidential influences not only affect the rate at which a disaster is declared, but the amounts of funds released to each state also. Further, they assert that those states deemed to be of high importance to the president from a political perspective benefit in that, it is highly likely that the president will declare a disaster if they are facing threats from one of the afore mentioned conditions. In addition to that, the states hav.............


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