With all the self-righteous talk about cutting spending, those cuts have to hit someone. But is energy assistance for low-income households really where we should cut?
From National Journal.com:
President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget will cut several billion dollars from the government’s energy assistance fund for poor people, officials briefed on the subject told National Journal.
It's the biggest domestic spending cut disclosed so far, and one that will likely generate the most heat from the president's traditional political allies. Such complaints might satisfy the White House, which has a vested interest in convincing Americans that it is serious about budget discipline. One White House friend, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), earlier today said a Republican proposal to cut home heating oil counted as an "extreme idea" that would "set the country backwards." Schumer has not yet reacted to Obama's proposed cut. On Wednesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., declared: “The President’s reported proposal to drastically slash LIHEAP funds by more than half would have a severe impact on many of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens and I strongly oppose it." A spokesman for Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., declared similarly: “If these cuts are real, it would be a very disappointing development for millions of families still struggling through a harsh winter.”
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, would see funding drop by about $2.5 billion from an authorized 2009 total of $5.1 billion. The proposed cut will not touch the program's emergency reserve fund, about $590 million, which can be used during particularly harsh cold snaps or extended heat spells, three officials told National Journal.
In 2010, Obama signed into law an omnibus budget resolution that released a total of about $5 billion in LIHEAP grants for 2011. Pointing to the increasing number of Americans who made use of the grants last year, advocates say that LIHEAP is already underfunded. The American Gas Association predicts that 3 million Americans eligible for the program won't be able to receive it unless LIHEAP funding stays at its current level.