The coldest cut of all

Scrooge was a nasty old miser, but even he came to see the soul-destroying evil of his ways and found redemption in the end. One wonders though – is there any hope for the Scrooges of Washington?

Scrooge was a nasty old miser, but even he came to see the soul-destroying evil of his ways and found redemption in the end. One wonders though – is there any hope for the Scrooges of Washington?

Congressional Republicans are protecting tax breaks for Wall Street billionaires and Big Oil, while demanding that programs to aid America’s growing number of poor people either be slashed or eliminated. The Obama White House is fighting most of this nonsense, but it’s trying to appease the GOP by offering to sacrifice programs that ordinary people really need. For example, LIHEAP.

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Much of the country doesn’t know what that is, but people who go through the long, bitterly cold winters in the Northeast know that LIHEAP literally is a lifeline for the thousands of poor families there. It’s the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps the poor afford the steadily-rising price being charged for the heating oil that northeastern states rely on. Home heating oil in Maine is presently running $3.66 a gallon, up from $2.87 a year ago.

Yet, in a concession to the GOP, Obama has proposed whacking LIHEAP’s funding so severely that average benefits this winter would fall from about $800 per home to just over $300. That’s not just throwing a budget into the Republican shredder, it’s throwing people into it! In Bangor, Maine, where the average January low is only seven degrees above zero, the slashed benefits will buy only about 100 gallons of fuel for the typical low-income home. It takes 850 gallons for those homes to stay heated through the winter season.

Rather than literally tossing the poor into the cold, how about cutting off all heat to the White House and Capitol? Let those Scrooges feel the sting of their budgetary miserliness.

“Northeast states cut heating aid to poor,” Austin American Statesman, December 12, 2011.

“Federal Cuts Give Maine a Chill as Winter Approaches,” The New York Times, November 28, 2011.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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