Let's be clear on something: Republicans firmly believe that nothing is important enough to trump a possible tax cut. That's why they oppose the adequate funding of the U.S. Weather Service -- and not incidentally, its tsunami warning system.
Republicans also don't believe in funding FEMA. They don't believe in infrastructure investment or maintenance. They don't believe Amtrak passengers deserve safe trains, or safe tracks. They don't believe in updating the nation's air traffic control system, and they don't believe in spending money to get clean air and water. They don't believe in spending on safe workplaces, either.
They're the main reason why America can't have nice things. Nobody in their right mind who wants any of these things should ever, ever, ever vote for a Republican. From the Washington Monthly:
Honolulu's Star-Advertiser ran a report a few weeks ago that has a salience now that it might have lacked when first published.
The union representing National Weather Service workers says budget cuts proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives could jeopardize public safety and increase the severity of disaster losses in Hawaii.
"People could die. ... It could be serious," said Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.
Hirshorn said that if a continuing resolution proposed by the U.S. House is enacted -- triggering a 28 percent budget cut in the second half of the fiscal year -- Weather Service employees as well as those at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center could face furloughs and rolling closures.
"It would impact our ability to issue warnings," he said.
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) said the GOP's proposed cuts would "drastically" reduce the ability of officials to "alert our communities about imminent, dangerous events.
"The National Weather Service's union added in a statement, "In the next hurricane, flood, tornado or wildfire, lives will be lost and people will ask what went wrong. Congress' cuts and the devastation to the well-being of our nation's citizens are dangerously wrong."
Fortunately, the proposed cuts haven't been approved -- Democrats oppose the GOP plan -- but Republicans are still fighting for them.
Is it wrong and/or exploitative to point this out? I don't think so. There's an intense budget fight underway in Washington, and critics of the Republicans' push for brutal domestic cuts have said the GOP plan would cause serious, real-world consequences. That happens to be true. The fact that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center would face furloughs and rolling closures if Republicans have their way matters, and today's tragedy helps drive home why it matters.
Put it this way: GOP lawmakers want to deliberately undercut tsunami monitoring, based on the notion that this spending is somehow unnecessary. Republicans thought this two weeks ago, one week ago, yesterday, and today. Chances are, they'll still support these cuts tomorrow, too.