Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunami warnings part of Republicans' "discretionary spending" cuts

As devastating as the massive, record-setting earthquake was (and continues to be) in Japan, it's outcome would have been far worse without the substantial investments that Japan made in earthquake and tsunami protection.

The U.S. is far less prepared, and Republicans in Congress want to reduce those preparations even more as part of their effort to cut "discretionary" government spending. The Washington Post reports
A spending plan being pushed by Republicans would slash funding for the agency that warned the West Coast about the devastating tsunami in Japan.

The plan, approved by the GOP-controlled House last month, would trigger an estimated $126 million in cuts for the National Weather Service, the agency that houses the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii. The center issued widespread warnings minutes after Friday's earthquake and issued guidance and updates throughout the day.

A union representing workers at the tsunami center said the proposed cuts - part of $454 million in cuts for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - could result in furloughs and rolling closures of weather service offices. If so, that could affect the center's ability to issue warnings similar to those issued Friday, said Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.
Tsunami warnings and, more generally, weather warnings save lives in the U.S. and throughout the world. The cuts that the Republicans have voted to enact are irresponsible, short-sighted, and ultimately deadly.