Romney/Ryan on FEMA and NOAA

With an update (10/31) “Obama cuts FEMA funding by 3 percent. Romney-Ryan cuts it by 40 percent. Or more. Or less.”.


From National Journal, Governor Romney on FEMA:

When asked about disaster relief and FEMA’s role in a debate in June of 2011, Romney said, “Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better,” according to a transcript of the debate.


He added: “Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, ‘What we should cut,’ we should ask the opposite question, ‘What should we keep?’ We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in.”


When questioned by moderator John King of CNN about disaster relief specifically, Romney responded, “We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.” [emphasis added – MDC]

From CBS News last year, on Representative Ryan’s FY2012 budget plan:

The GOP budget plan that passed through the House last month aimed to cut funding for a tsunami warning center that issued a slew of warnings around Japan’s devastating earthquake. The budget, which proposed about $60 billion in budget cuts, would slash funding for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

For Representative Ryan’s plans for NOAA in the FY 2013 budget, see here:

NOAA’s programs are in function 300, Natural Resources and Environment, along with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and a range of conservation and natural resources programs. In the near term, function 300 would be 14.6 percent lower in 2014 in the Ryan budget according to the Washington Post. It quotes David Kendall of The Third Way as warning about the potential impact on weather forecasting: “‘Our weather forecasts would be only half as accurate for four to eight years until another polar satellite is launched,’ estimates Kendall. ‘For many people planning a weekend outdoors, they may have to wait until Thursday for a forecast as accurate as one they now get on Monday. … Perhaps most affected would be hurricane response. Governors and mayors would have to order evacuations for areas twice as large or wait twice as long for an accurate forecast.’”

No need for USGS as earthquakes are unlikely in the future. Thus, Representative Ryan continues an established trend.


Update, 10/31 8:45AM Pacific: We have no idea what Governor Romney thinks about FEMA, as indicated by this; see video at about 14 seconds in. Romney’s budget indicates massive cuts, which would be consistent with what he said during the primaries.

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42 thoughts on “Romney/Ryan on FEMA and NOAA

  1. jonathan

    The Romney campaign was asked by HuffPost Sunday 10/28 about cutting out FEMA and was told it was true and got this:
    “A Romney official reaffirmed the former governor’s position Sunday evening in an email.
    “Gov. Romney wants to ensure states, who are the first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities, have the resources and assistance they need to cope with natural disasters,” the Romney official said.”
    The Washington Post notes Romney actually talked about privatizing disaster response.

  2. tj

    LOL, you guys are getting desperate.
    But a Romney campaign spokeswoman said today not to read too much into the exchange from 2011, that it does not mean Romney wants to institute cuts for FEMA.
    “Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” said Amanda Hennenberg. “As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.”
    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/politics-of-fema-mitt-romney-suggested-less-federal-involvement-paul-ryan-budget-scrutinized/
    I don’t recall Menzie being as enamored with VP Biden as he is with Ryan. Menzie, have you ever posted anything on Biden’s policies? He is much closer to the presidency than Ryan since Romney is the president.
    In fairness, here are some of Bidens’s positions.
    *Biden voted in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade as a Senator in 1982. (Flip-flopped since then.)
    *He supports abstinence-only sex education, is against student vouchers and affirms the Constitutional right to voluntary prayer in school.
    *He was given a 60% approval rating from the American Civil Liberties Union reflecting a mixed voting record on civil rights issues.
    *He supports the building of a wall along the border as a deterrent to drug trafficking.
    *Biden also sponsored two bills, the Comprehensive Counter Terrorism Act (SB 266) and the Violent Crime Control Act (SB 618), both of which contained language seen as effectively banning encryption.
    *He voted in support of welfare block grants and supports welfare reform.
    *Biden was given a 100% approval rating from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
    *Regarding his belief that Iraq maintained stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, Biden said in 2007 that inspectors had seen and cataloged the existence of the materials required to make such weapons prior to their expulsion from Iraq and pondered why Saddam Hussein didn’t tell the international community that he had disposed of them.
    *Biden favors an American deployment of troops to Darfur.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Joe_Biden

  3. Babinich

    “Governor Romney is infinitely malleable; that’s his position today, but not yesterday”

    Yeah, just like POTUS.

  4. Menzie Chinn

    Babinich: Do you remember your post(5/31/2008):

    Should we be curbing carbon emissions and looking for alternative fuels? Absolutely; technology is the way out.

    Should we be panicking about global warming to the point that rash decisions are made that alter economic activity? Absolutely not…

    Especially since anthropogenic warning continues to be debated (much to the chagrin of the Left).

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7329799.stm

    I’m curious if you are still think there’s no anthropogenic climate change. I think Econbrowser readers should know what kind of people write insightful comments like the one you just wrote.

  5. Iamwhatyouwant

    A change in opinion on some such subject, without acknowledging and/or explaining that change thus renders one of said opinions, a lie.

  6. Tony K

    I just don’t get it. Services like disaster relief need to be paid for. Simply removing the cost from federal government does not reduce the need for the work to be done.
    The two questions really are a. is it better to consolidate risk at a higher level (like an insurunce company) or to have fifty individual pools), and b. which approach would be more cost-efficient in the long run. Removing budget and responsibitity from the Fed Government will just create costly redundancy and higher risk for each state with little hope of actually reducing cost.

  7. dilbert dogbert

    The states would be very economical with their disaster programs. Some would organize prayer groups to prevent floods, tornadoes, wild fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and the spread of infectious diseases. If prayer did not work it would be God’s Will.

  8. Anonymous

    Wow, tj, Biden is extreme!….wait most of his positions that you find so terrible are the Republican platform…

  9. CoRev

    Menzie, this really is a desperate article. With any luck the POTUS will be gone, and then we can find out just how badly he governed. If not the worst nearly so is my guess. If not the most crooked/unlawful worst nearly so is my guess. Regrettably the actual truth won’t be know for decades.

  10. tj

    Anonymous at October 30, 2012 05:30 AM
    Wow, tj, Biden is extreme!….wait most of his positions that you find so terrible are the Republican platform…
    That’s the point! (With the exception of the union support.) Liberals are quick to criticize Ryan’s conservative policies/record, but they don’t criticize or analyze Biden’s conservative policies/record! Why did’t we get such a thorough analysis of Biden’s record?

  11. David L. Hagen

    Menzie Chin
    With your expertise in statistics, I encourage you to explore the uncertainties involved relative to that needed to quantify anthropogenic impacts on climate. See Nigel Fox on the need for the TRUTHS project to improve uncertainties in satellite data by an order of magnitude.
    Relatively small amounts of investment into improving satellite measurements can provide an order of magnitude improvement in the quality of the data. That would reduce the time to discern anthropogenic impacts from about 30 years to 10 years.
    That would be far more effective than spending hundreds of billions of dollars on global climate models which are currently trending 2 sigma hotter than reality for the last 32 years. See Lucia’s quantitative analyses at The Blackboard.
    Re: “no anthropogenic climate change.”
    I expect there definitely is anthropogenic impact on “climate” (aka global warming). The challenge is to detect/differentiate that from natural variations. I encourage you to examine the uncertainties identified by Nigel Fox, the IPCC, and others, and then comment on what the uncertainty is in anthropogenic attribution versus
    1) the warming from the Little Ice Age (see Syun-Ichi Akasofu
    On the recovery from the Little Ice Age, Natural Science Vol.2, No.11, 1211-1224 (2010)doi:10.4236/ns.2010.211149
    2) the impact of the PDO & AMO on global temperatures (see d’Aleo & Easterbrook (2011)
    3) the impact of solar/cosmic forcing on climate.
    4) chaotic variations in weather/climate (See Fred Singer IPCC v NIPCC
    5) persistence or Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics
    6) instrumental uncertainties
    7) systematic uncertainties
    8) distinguishing anthropogenic contributions from the above.

  12. Dr. Morbius

    My favorite is still the “The Quantum View of Romney”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/opinion/sunday/a-quantum-theory-of-mitt-romney.html?_r=0
    Especially, how Romney illustrates the concept of quantum entanglement: “More precisely, Mitt Romney will feel every possible way about an issue until the moment he is asked about it, at which point the many feelings decohere into the single answer most likely to please the asker.”
    Also, the likely reason that we are less enamored of Biden’s policy positions as we are of Ryan’s is the simple fact that Joe Biden’s position were not printed into a booklet and accepted unanimously by House vote of his party members; Joe Biden’s running mate didn’t express his support of those positions as “marvelous”, as being “very supportive” of those ideas, as being “the right tone”; as being an “important step”; or as being on the “same page” with those ideas. We can debate the extent of the utter fraudulence of Ryan’s ideas and positions; but to claim a false equivalency between Ryan’s “plan” and Biden’s positions over the years strikes me as very desperate indeed.

  13. Blev

    Tony K:
    “Simply removing the cost from federal government does not reduce the need for the work to be done.”
    Right on. I was thinking the exact same thing. First, consolidating risk/ responsibility at a higher level of government is more efficient. Most of what governments do is insurance anyways – because they do it well.
    Second, the idea that “if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better” isn’t true for every good. A prime example is… insurance. The private sector does a poor job of providing public goods. The questions, in a hurricane scenario like the one were now witnessing, are… who pays for relief and clean-up? Would the private sector provide cheaper, better relief?
    If you believe a state, city, neighborhood is going to be able to contract with a private company (review all your options to ensure you’re getting the best deal, and do it quick. There is a hurricane on the way) for cheaper, better relief than it would get from the Federal government… I think your drinking the kool-aid.
    Third, the idea that it’s irresponsible for the federal government to pay for disaster relief (borrowing money… yada…children… debt… yada…) is beside the point. When a disaster is on its way or has already hit, the real question is what’s the most efficient response? If doing nothing to avoid borrowing money was optimal, we would do it more often. Relief and rebuilding are worth the money – borrowed or not. Again, who does it cheaper and better?

  14. randomworker

    Yes, we need to get more people like Heck-of-a-Job Brownie from the private sector involved in disaster relief efforts.

  15. Steven Kopits

    Princeton Damage Report
    We were duly thrashed yesterday by Sandy, which made landfall near Atlantic City and passed perhaps 30 miles south of us.
    As present, 80% of Princeton is without power, 60 roads in the town are blocked. Large trees have come down every 100 yards or so. On our block, power lines are compromised in four places. It’s going to take quite some time to clean up the mess.
    The roar of the wind last night was impressive. I could stand on my porch and hear the cracking of tree limbs over the din.
    On the other hand, the library is open (my new office). The storm-tossed destitute are here, seeking the comfort of power and wi-fi for their iPhones and laptops. It’s not quite your father’s hurricane.
    And our store, McCaffrey’s, has learnt since last year, when the store lost power for the better part of a week. They now have a shiny diesel generator out back–and they were open for business, handing out coffees to the dripless.
    So the damage here in Princeton is worse than last year, but I think we are better prepared, and the community is pulling together after a night which will be long remembered.

  16. Jeffrey J. Brown

    I have coined a term–Cyclical Insanity, as a function of who the occupant of the Oval Office is
    I think that it started during the Clinton years, when a sizable number of Republicans went crazy.
    Then it was the Democrats’ turn to go crazy, during the Bush 43 years.
    Then is was the Republicans’ turn again, during Obama’s first term.
    However, if Obama does win another term, I suspect that the Republican response this time may be off the chart. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large number of Angry White Males spontaneously combust, leaving large piles of ashes behind in their recliners*.
    *May be an investment opportunity there, in regard to boom times for industrial clean up crews.

  17. Ed Hanson

    Dr. Morbius
    Interesting scale you have to rate a budget proposal when you wrote, “Also, the likely reason that we are less enamored of Biden’s policy positions as we are of Ryan’s is the simple fact that Joe Biden’s position were not printed into a booklet and accepted unanimously by House vote of his party members”. Although not really unanimous of all Republicans, close enough for government work.
    How did the vote on the Democrat Senate developed budget plan fare? Did it pass by unanimous vote of its Democratic members? Oh that’s right, the Democrat Senate did not produce a budget proposal. This year, or last year, or the year before.
    So how do you rate that procedure.
    Perhaps, you will find a fall back position that the President did perform his task by producing a budget proposal. It actually found unanimity by his party, every single Democratic member voted against it.
    Perhaps that makes it better in your eyes. But I ask you, was Joe Biden’s running mate “very supportive” of the President’s budget?
    Just curious if you have standards for the legislature process or only one sided view of the way results should be.

  18. Bruce Hall

    The problem with super-agencies such as FEMA is that they are heavy on bureaucracy and light on delivery. Hurricane Katrina exposed that situation, but it’s simply a fundamental characteristic of such organizations.
    Romney’s position, however much you agree or disagree, is that smaller organizational units are inherently more responsive and flexible. By relegating super-agencies to resource providers when state level agencies are strained, it allows each area/state to determine which/where the resources are best used.
    In our area of Michigan, there are hundreds of lakes that have come under the purview of FEMA’s flood plain mapping… costing homeowners millions of dollars in unnecessary flood insurance. Local/state knowledge reveals that most “flood plain” location have never had a flood because of natural drainage, elevation, or other factors. Yet the federal formula disregards those factors. Hurricanes are not a serious concern in the area. The spring of 2011 was the wettest in recorded NOAA history, yet there was never a danger of massive flooding.
    Michigan is not alone in that respect: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/04/local/la-me-flood-maps4-2010jan04
    So, you ask, what’s the problem with paying $500-2,500 per year in unneeded flood insurance? After all, FEMA needs that to cover disasters… someplace… sometime.

  19. Dr. Morbius

    Hanson,
    How is a budget plan that is so linked to the author that it is known as the Ryan Budget Plan (supported by a vote of his colleagues, and adopted by his running mate) is comparable, in any way whatsoever, to the House Democratic Budget plan as it regards Joe Biden’s policy points as noted above by tj? Last time I checked, Job Biden’s service was in the Senate.
    I realize that the ploy to try and draw false analogies between an item associated with democrats and a non-similar, but superficially related, item of the GOP is a standard of the legislative process for the right; but you can’t seriously think that trying to tie those two items together as a response to my post makes sense as a counter argument.

  20. Menzie Chinn

    Bruce Hall: Now who was running FEMA back in Katrina? Hmm. Let me think. Oh, a Michael A. “Heckuva job” Brown. I think the point of the Obama Administration has been to bring in qualified individuals so we have an effective FEMA.

    I love your means of assessing probabilities, by the way. I’m sure no AAA MBS’s will ever lose value, either.

  21. tj

    Bruce Hall
    what’s the problem with paying $500-2,500 per year in unneeded flood insurance?
    I am one of those ~$2500 a year folks Bruce. 5 years after building in a suburban development that was safe by the old maps, FEMA re-mapped and says about 200 homes are in the flood plain. Presto, you pay flood insurance. Your mortgage lender adds it to your payment, just like property taxes, PMI, etc.
    If I try to sell my home, the buyer is forced to pay ~$300/mo over the life of a 30 year mortgage. Add $300 per month to a mortgage and that means I need to reduce my selling price by about $50,000 to the make the price comparable to a nearby home that’s not in the flood plain.
    The bottom line is that FEMA has taken $50,000 out of my pocket AND forced me to pay ~$2500 per year in flood insurance. Similar to your point, there is no record of this part of town ever flooding.
    There is a simple connection to Obamacare and it goes by the name adverse selection. The folks who are most likely to file a claim on any type of insurance policy (flood, health, etc) are the people most likley to buy insurance. If the government mandates that rates be ‘affordable’ i.e. less than actuarially fair, then the government has to force people who are least likely to file a claim to subsidize the people who are most likely to file a claim.
    My property in the flood plain is a perfect example. I pay a similar rate to a property owner that lives in an area that floods on a regular basis, even though my property will never flood. If rates were fair, then I would pay much less than the high risk property owner.
    This is why it’s so important for Obama to keep young adults on their parents health plan. Mom and Dad get stuck paying the bill for a policy on their child. The child’s claims are less than the premium paid. The excess is used to reduce the premiums for the elderly, pre-existing conditions, etc.
    Obama has to mandate that everyone pays insurance so he gets enough healthy people to pay premiums. (Or impose a fine on the scofflaws.) Healthy people pay more in premiums than they draw in claims, so the excess can be used to reduce the premiums for those who make more claims.
    If it were actuarially fair, then the young/healthy would pay ultra low premiums, while those with pre-existing conditions, elderly etc, would pay much higher premiums.
    I am not saying that society shouldn’t help offset healthcare costs for those who can’t afford it, but I don’t think young/healthy people (and many employers) understand how much extra they are going to pay for baby boomer health care.

  22. Brian

    I’m confused. I thought the usual knock on conservatives was that they are rigid in their beliefs and unwilling to consider new information, while liberals were so open-minded and willing to let the facts guide them. So now why is Romney being labeled such a flip-flopper without considering any context for his changed opinions? Maybe he learned new information or re-appraised the information he had and came to a more appropriate position given the data? I’m so confused.
    Second, I was just watching CNN and heard Romney’s response from a debate last year regarding FEMA and emergency management functions. What he said then is still eminently reasonable: the people closest to the disaster are generally the most informed and know best how to respond. He never said he would completely eliminate FEMA.

  23. Ed Hanson

    Mobius
    We seem to each having trouble understanding our post, so I’ll try again.
    I do not rely on or expect either sides campaign promises to result in legislation exactly as the promise. Such as Obama’s campaign promise that he was opposed to an individual mandate connected to universal health care.
    Likewise this time I am not looking to Obama campaign promises about his budget. I do not have to, he has had the last two years to put his ideas into a real proposed written budgets. Both were so bad that each was overwhelmingly defeated in both houses of Congress, and pointedly with extremely scant or no votes for them by his own party. He had his chance.
    Likewise, Ryan put his ideas into a budget, subject to legislative pressures. It was written legislation not campaign promises. He was able to pass it it one house and had substantial support in the other. Something I could hang a hat on.

  24. Bruce Hall

    Menzie: Now who was running FEMA back in Katrina? Hmm. Let me think. Oh, a Michael A. “Heckuva job” Brown. I think the point of the Obama Administration has been to bring in qualified individuals so we have an effective FEMA.
    Uh, no. The point is that FEMA is another bloated bureaucracy that has its top faces changing, but little else. What it does best is add cost.
    tj: Obviously, you understood my sarcasm about the unnecessary and costly FEMA inspired flood insurance costs… and the complete lack of benefit. Of course, we could be flooded when Antarctica melts… but, gee golly gosh, the snow cover has reached its all-time recorded high so I guess we’ll have to wait until that “globe” warms, too.

  25. Menzie Chinn

    Bruce Hall: On to substance: has Governor Romney answered the question, in any venue? By now, he’s had plenty of time to determine which way the wind blows, and change his position from his previous stance. E.g., has he disavowed his budget proposal?

  26. 2slugbaits

    tj and Bruce Hall and David L. Hagen I’m not quite sure if you’re applauding Romney for dissing FEMA or if you’re trying to defend Romney against the charge that he dissed FEMA. I get the sense that you are trying to make both arguments at the same time. Arguing in the alternative anyone? Is Romney’s vision one of Haiti after an earthquake? Sounds like it.
    Brian the people closest to the disaster are generally the most informed and know best how to respond. He never said he would completely eliminate FEMA.
    Since when did Obama say that FEMA would try to interfere with state and local officials on the ground who “know best how to respond”? What FEMA mainly does is provide resources. It’s simply stupid for each state to try and provide emergency resources on its own. A lot of what FEMA does is to requisition and direct critical resources from National Guard units, Army Reserve and Active Army units. For example, generators, ROWPUs, tents, class 1 subsistence pallets, boats, helicopters, etc. For example, try reading the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93-288, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207. Beyond establishing insurance programs that annoy tj (why do I believe he would be the first one complaining if his house floods and he doesn’t get help), the President grants FEMA the authority to waive various federal regulations and to redirect military assets towards civilian purposes. For example, during Hurricane Katrina a lot of messages came through the operations center redirecting military assets to go to the Gulf rather than Iraq.

  27. tj

    2slugs
    (why do I believe he would be the first one complaining if his house floods and he doesn’t get help)
    I don’t need help. I can cover the loss myself. No flood here in 500+ years. Why does the government force me to buy insurance?
    Let me guess – they have a model…

  28. tj

    Menzie
    when was the last time NYC had a flood like the one they just had?
    Good point. Now FEMA can claim that 500 year floods are the new 100 year floods and force more homeowners into the flood insurance program. (By the way, it doesn’t matter if you are not in the 100 year flood plain now. If FEMA changes the map, then you are forced to buy flood insurance or pay off your home. Either way, a buyer of your home would be forced to pay an extra ~$300/mo for flood insurance, unless the buyer pays cash.)
    Where do people with beach front property in hurricane strike zones get the money to rebuild in a hurricane strike zone? They get it from serfs like me who pay premiums, but will never file a claim.

  29. 2slugbaits

    tj The fact that you seem to believe self-insurance is a sensible approach tells me all I need to know about your math skills.
    Let me guess – they have a model…
    Well, yes. They do. A few years ago I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Harold Brooks of NOAA’s severe storm center in Norman, OK. It was on a project to quantify natural disaster risks for Army ammunition plants over a 50 year horizon. It was quite an eye-opener. Turns out that flooding was a huge risk in places that I never would have guessed were risks. Whether or not you believe climate change is manmade or not, the fact is that the climate is changing. Today marks the 500th anniversary of the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. It kind of puts things in perspective when we talk about once-in-500 year events. Those kinds of things are now happening once every 20 years in some areas. Part of the increased occurence is due to climate change, but some of it is due to manmade landscape change such as more asphalt, dams, etc.
    And what is your model for believing that FEMA overstated your flood risk? Let me guess – you have a gut instinct.

  30. In Hell's Kitchen (NYC)

    “Menzie,
    I stand by my May 31st 2008 comment.
    I also stand by my comment about POTUS.”
    yeah, we get it…you’re a crank that can’t be turned.

  31. tj

    LOL, regarding 500 year floods– Those kinds of things are now happening once every 20 years in some areas.
    Data please. Show me where on the earth that 500 year floods are “happening once every 20 years”.
    2slugs You might get a chuckle out of this. We had a major flood event in my area a few years ago. The mayor, media outlets, etc, called it a 500 year flood. Our property didn’t flood. I called the DNR who does the mapping for FEMA. I requested that my property be removed from the 100 year flood plain, explaining that our property did not flood during the recent 500 year flood event. They replied, and I quote, “It was not a 100 year flood because if it was a 100 year flood, your property would have flooded.”
    Models trump data in Progressiveland.
    Progressives are like the BORG: Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.

  32. 2slugbaits

    tj Show me where on the earth that 500 year floods are “happening once every 20 years”.
    Try looking at the upper midwest between the Mississippi Valley and Missouri Valley. There have been three major floods over the last 19 years that have each been at the 100 year and/or 500 year level. Part of the reason is clearly manmade…fewer wetlands, fewer trees and grasslands in order to do more fencepost-to-fencepost planting, more asphalt, etc. Part of the reason is climate. For example, prior to the 1990s the chances of a 4 inch rainfall event within a 24 hour period was almost once in a decade. The expected number of 4 inch rainfalls within 24 hours is now nine times per decade.

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