Wednesday, February 9, 2011

He's Serious About Making The Poor Suffer

Inside the beltway, being "serious" means a willingness to do something that will make the poor or middle class suffer. In this case, it's the very poor:
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. That would satisfy the White House, which has a vested interest in convincing Americans that it is serious about budget discipline.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, would see funding drop by about $3 billion from an authorized 2009 total of $5.1 billion. The government will not touch its 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 recieve it unless LIHEAP funding stays at its current level.
These cuts will have a very real life or death impact on anyone who relies on that program. But doing this will make Obama seem "serious" to half a dozen rich white people who write newspaper columns, so there's that.

Any move Obama makes about the budget should be held in direct comparison with his unwillingness to fight against an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the super rich.

He would prefer cutting off heat for the powerless than fighting to make the powerful pay their share.

It's not pretty, but that's the bottom line.

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