When Heating Aid Collides With Austerity: Today’s Installment in Devil Take the Hindmost As Public Policy

It’s cold out, especially in the Northeast, and that means it’s time for ‘fiscal conservatives’ to attempt to help poor elderly people freeze to death. No, I’m not kidding (boldface mine):

Congress is considering cutting $1 billion out of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which gave $4.7 billion to 9 million households last year. And several states in the region, where residents depend heavily on heating oil to get them through brutally cold winters, have already cut their aid to poor households who need help paying the heating bills.

Some say the results could be beyond uncomfortable—they could be dangerous.

Families in New England pay an average of $3,300 to heat their home during the winter, according to the head of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association. Compare that to the average income of assistance recipients in the northernmost state of Maine, which is just $16,757. Last year, the average benefit there was $800. This year, it might be as little as $300.

The cuts were proposed by President Obama last February. The House and Senate are reviewing funding some $3.4 billion and $3.6 billion respectively. But advocates still say it’s not enough.

“They’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives,” Massachusetts aid-provider John Drew told AP. He says this year there’s been a 10 percent increase in applicants, suggesting aid to the poor should be increased, not reduced. “We have a lot of terrified people who can’t see how they are going to survive.”

Yes, this is needlessly cruel. And, yes, you read the story correctly: President Obama, Defender of the Virtue of Eleven-Year Old Girls, proposed cutting heating assistance. This is apparently part of his ongoing campaign to shit all over his base. Needless, to say, Republicans, who are disproportionately not from heating aid states, jumped all over this. It’s a twofer: someone else takes the hit, and that someone is a worthless parasite to boot. Like this woman:

Mary Power is 92 and worried about surviving another frigid New England winter because deep cuts in federal home heating assistance benefits mean she probably can’t afford enough heating oil to stay warm.

She lives in a drafty trailer in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood and gets by on $11,148 a year in pension and Social Security benefits. Her heating aid help this year will drop from $1,035 to $685. With rising heating oil prices, it probably will cost her more than $3,000 for enough oil to keep warm unless she turns her thermostat down to 60 degrees, as she plans.

“I will just have to crawl into bed with the covers over me and stay there,” said Power, a widow who worked as a cashier and waitress until she was 80. “I will do what I have to do.”

Worked until she was eighty. Damn moocher. Next thing you know, she’ll want to eat too.

Seriously, the next time there is some disaster in a known flood plan or tornado alley, the entire Northeastern congressional delegation, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, should use every legislative trick to deny emergency funding and status to these areas until they get an increase in heating assistance.

Because, like it or not, we are governed by sociopaths. And fear and pain are the only things they understand.

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4 Responses to When Heating Aid Collides With Austerity: Today’s Installment in Devil Take the Hindmost As Public Policy

  1. albanaeon says:

    No. See, it’s all part of the plan. If the lower income northerners freeze to death, they won’t be able to vote for Democrats, while warm Southerner low income will be fine…

    Why does that only sound slightly implausible?

  2. no one in particular says:

    Until the Southeast is completely uninhabitable from climate change.

  3. Rich S. says:

    Obama continues to fuck his base because he thinks we have nowhere else to go. So, even though our assholes are bleeding, we will still remain in the bent over position while we go to the polls for him in November.
    Speaking only for myself, this is an incorrect assumption on his part. Nowhere is exactly where I’m going on election day.
    Now, I know what many of you will say, “That’s just handing the election to the Republicans. Is that what you want?” No, it is not. But, Obama passed himself off as something he is clearly not, and I’m tired of the lesser of two evils. I know the Republicans will cause a lot of pain and suffering, and I may be one who experiences that pain first-hand through a job loss. But, something has to break the idea among politicians like Obama that they can continue to fuck us without consequence.

  4. Pingback: Links 12/20/11 | Mike the Mad Biologist

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