With the latest polls, President Obama's re-election prospects might be cloudy, and things might be getting downright stormy—Republicans in Congress are now blasting the president over federal funding for weather forecasting.
Georgia Rep. Paul Broun sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Jane Lubchenco saying that the NOAA shifted as much as $100 million from the National Weather Service to other NOAA projects without Congressional approval.
That struck a chord with Broun, the chairman of a congressional subcommittee on science and technology, who wrote that Obama has been making "unfortunate use of weather forecasting and weather satellites for political purposes."
That part is at least partially true—last month, Obama said that the Paul Ryan budget's cuts to NOAA would have long-lasting impacts.
"Over time, our weather forecasts would become less accurate because we wouldn't be able to afford to launch new satellites, and that means governors and mayors would have to wait longer to order evacuations in the event of a hurricane," Obama said.
Broun blasts NOAA and Obama for a proposed 2 percent budget cut to the NWS budget in 2013, a move that would "remove one employee from each of the 122 weather forecasting offices," he writes. "The administration continues to sacrifice weather forecasting for other NOAA priorities...[which] could have a significant impact on lives and property."
Meanwhile, Broun doesn't mention that the Paul Ryan budget, favored by many conservatives in Congress, would cut funding for "Natural Resources and Environment" spending, including for NOAA and NWS, by 14.6 percent by 2014.
David Kendall, a budget expert with Third Way, told the Washington Post's Ezra Klein that such a cut would make weather forecasts "only half as accurate for four to eight years" until a new weather satellite is launched.
Hurling hail-sized chunks of vitriol at Obama is nothing new for Broun—just after Obama was elected, Broun compared Obama to Hitler and said he was "showing [him] signs of being Marxist."