Oh boy: Obama proposed downsizing Coast Guard crisis center three months before spill

He finally finds a federal agency whose budget he’s willing to cut, and guess what.

Three months before the massive BP oil spill erupted in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration proposed downsizing the Coast Guard national coordination center for oil spill responses, prompting its senior officers to warn that the agency’s readiness for catastrophic events would be weakened…

Accidents happen, “but what you’re seeing here is the government is not properly set up to deal with this kind of issue,” said Robbin Laird, a defense consultant who has worked on Coast Guard issues. “The idea that you would even think about getting rid of catastrophic environmental spill equipment or expertise at the Department of Homeland Security, are you kidding me?”

“Cutting a strike team is nuts,” said Stephen Flynn, a former Coast Guard commander and now president of the Center for National Policy, a Washington think tank. “Whether it’s an accident of man or an act of terrorism, it requires almost the exact same skill set to clean it up.”…

“The elimination of the national command element could well lead to a reduction in core competencies in capabilities needed in a crisis,” said Cmdr. Tina Cutter [in February]. The absence of large spills in recent years has “degraded” the skills of responders, making it more critical to maintain technical experts, particularly in catastrophes, she said.

In fairness, he proposed cutting just three percent of the CG’s budget, and parts of the decommissioned crisis center would simply be reorganized elsewhere. There’s also an open question of whether a fully functioning center could have done anything more here. Remember, when asked why the Coast Guard hasn’t taken over operations to cap the well from BP, Thad Allen admitted that there’s no reason to believe the feds could do a better job. That’s the real thrust of WaPo’s story, which you should read in full — not so much that the budget cuts will cause us to fall behind in spill clean-up readiness but that spill research is already far behind drilling advances. How do you catch up when money’s tight? And what was O thinking when he decided to scale back this particular agency knowing that he was about to irritate the left by coming out in favor of offshore drilling?

Here’s Tapper’s report tonight from ABC about The One’s trip down south. Democrats had better hope these people aren’t representative of all voters because, if they are, his credibility’s pretty well shot.