'A slap in the face'

Apparently the Bush administration has a similar mantra.

It’s bad enough that West Coast trollers are suffering through the cancellation of this year’s salmon fishery. One could argue that administration policies that deprive fish of needed water have contributed to West Coast stock declines.

Then on Wednesday, salmon fishermen learned that the Office of Management and Budget is requesting an additional $546 million for the fiscal year 2009 budget to cover increased costs associated with the 2010 census. And it wants to take $70 million of the $170 million earmarked for salmon disaster relief to help cover those costs.

In a letter to Congress, OMB writes, “After the reduction, $100 million would still be available for payments, which is sufficient given the estimated economic impact of recent fisheries disaster declarations for the area.”

West Coast legislators on both sides of the aisle were not amused.

“This request is a slap in the face to the scores of salmon fishermen in Oregon who are struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the largest salmon closure in West Coast history,” said Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.) in a press statement. “Rest assured there will be a strong bipartisan effort to ensure that these cuts don’t go through.”

Lordy, we hope so. The Bush administration’s lack of compassion for salmon fishermen is truly, head-shakingly stunning, especially in the wake of its tepid response to aiding Gulf of Mexico residents (not to mention fishermen) devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

But then again, if the administration didn’t lose any sleep about the salmon disappearing, why would we think it’d have any qualms over making disaster relief money vanish, too?

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