Friday, March 11, 2011

GOP wants to cut funding for NOAA

In the ironic-timing department, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved some $454 million in cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Of those cuts, $126 million would be taken from the budget of the National Weather Service, whose Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued the tsunami warnings that undoubtedly saved lives on Hawaii and the mainland.

Only a handful of people know what the real impact of the cuts would be; the rest of us only have the predictable warnings of doom from Democrats and the equally predictable assurances from Republicans that the cuts will not affect people's safety but are absolutely essential to reducing the deficit. Neither party can claim such a close relationship to the truth that its statements can be considered trustworthy.

We'll never know if the warning system that kept so many alive today would have been just as effective with a smaller budget. The problem is that deficit hawks will not step forward to say unambiguously, "Services X, Y, and Z aren't worth paying for, so we're stripping funding for them." Well, that's not entirely true: conservatives have no difficulty being quite upfront about their determination to de-fund public broadcasting and Planned Parenthood. However, that's as far as they'll go in their straight-talking.

Deficit hawks, if you want to show you're credible, you'll cut funding for programs your constituents like, too. And you'll explain to everyone why it's necessary. Otherwise you're just playing the same petty politics in which you accuse your so-called big-government foes of indulging.

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