To republicans this means "big government" - spending on infrastructure.
What if we where to experience a disaster like Japan? How prepared are we in our country? Yesterday house republican leader Eric Cantor defended republican proposals to cut spending for the United States Geological Survey, the National Weather Service, and NOAA.
Government officials predict the closure of as many as 12 NOAA offices - which provide warning services for 30 million Americans. The national weather service budget would be cut by $126 million over the next six months with furloughs at 22 forecast offices. -and shorter work weeks for the storm prediction center and the national hurricane center shall be expected.
Where are we going as a country? Last week the president of the NWS union said "that if those cuts go through, there will be furloughs at both of the tsunami warning centers that protect the whole country. The president also said, "there is a very heightened risk of life if these cuts go through."
Any local LEPC or emergency coordinator will tell you that the inability for warnings to be disseminated to the public, whether due to staffing inadequacies, radar maintenance problems, or weather radio transmitter difficulties would be disastrous.
It's very tempting when doing these bizarre, every two week cuts, continuing resolutions to fund the government, to whack away at things you think people won't notice because, hey, what are the odds there is going to be some sort of weather event?
This is what I find bizarre about all this. If you peruse through the continuing resolution - first of all, there is a lot of gimmickry in this because a fair amount of the money being saved are called rescissions, which is money not spent - so the sense is we're returning money back to the treasury because it didn't spend all the money allotted. If you're going to make an argument from the most extreme libertarian perspective there are a few things you have to conceive of as basic public goods, and things like tsunami warning systems, early warning systems for seismic events are clearly public good.
Even in the most kind of stripped down conceptions these are things you want the government doing, and in the general context of the federal budget it really doesn't cost that much money. Keep in mind that the entire defense portion of the budget and the earmarks therein - there are more earmarks in the bill than any other bill - to which they are all protected by the house republicans.
It is basic safety for American citizens that is in jeopardy. We'd be less safe if these cuts go through -- talking aviation, utilities, agriculture. It is amazing how far these republicans will really go.
Reminder - when you hear radical republicans speaking "reform"....grab your wallet and hold on tight, for soon they shall ask for it next!.