[Editorial note: Richard S. of the excellent blog, Commie Curmudgeon once again applied his razor sharp editor's eye and made a suggestion about my original first paragraph (written too early) being ambiguous. I've rewritten it and hopefully it clears up the confusion that he had with it when he read it. Make sure you add him to your blogroll--JB]
George Bush, whose administration has relied upon deficit spending throughout his term, has suddenly turned deficit hawk. Bush vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have increased funding for LIHEAP, an essential federal program that provides heating assistance to those in need.
While partisan politics often result in hyperbole and over-the-top statements from members of the loyal opposition, comments like Representative Carolyn McCarthy's is much more in line with the reality of those struggling to pay rapidly escalating oil, electric and natural gas bills this winter.
Congresswoman McCarthy (D-NY) is quoted as saying, "With energy costs consistently on the rise, more and more families must make the tough decision whether to heat their homes or put food on the table." She went on to say that, "We'll fight for the money."
If you don’t know what LIHEAP is, you probably aren’t one of those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, clinging to the bottom two rungs, hoping you don’t finally fall off into the abyss.
LIHEAP stands for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, a federal assistance program, which helps low-income residents with energy costs associated with heating their homes during the winter. LIHEAP will provide a one-time benefit to eligible households and must be used solely to pay energy bills. The amount of the benefit is determined by income, household size, fuel type and geographic location. Recipients don’t have to be homeowners, but must be primarily responsible for heating costs. The source of heat isn’t limited to natural gas or electricity in order to receive assistance.
With last season’s high energy costs, the program was stretched thin and with 2007/2008s skyrocketing energy costs pushing ever higher, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans are facing being cold, sick and possibly, even worse.
I know that conservatives hate the thought of helping anyone with handouts, other than corporations and the very rich, but is this what you’ve come to philosophically? Feeling superior about your ideology that chooses to let fellow American freeze to death over the winter, just so a few of the well-heeled can have their tax cuts?
There’s much more to this issue than just tax cuts. The continued cost of the war in Iraq, which our President wages with pride, isolated and ignoring the will of the people, is also having a profound affect on the federal government’s ability to deliver domestic assistance programs. Once again, he’s asking for additional funding to the already criminal $470,000.000.000 we’ve pissed down a rat’s hole thus far. Please, all you lunatics out on the right-wing fringe; drug-addled Rush Limbaugh, the psychotic Michael Savage, the smarmy Glen Beck and Mr. Hair, Sean Hannity—what benefit has the war visited on the U.S.? Please don’t revert to your usual clichéd responses about “fighting them over there, so we won’t have to fight them over here,” either. We’re fighting a war over here, my rich right-wing friends and it’s called poverty, something you are fortunate to be isolated from. Savage, at least, ought to have a better sense of how working class people struggle, because he comes from that class, although something happened in that man’s brain (or heart) long ago that’s made him one of the most hateful of this pack of ideological freaks.
I know Senator Snowe spent yesterday at the PROP office, in Portland, listening to the stories of Mainers who depend on LIHEAP and will go without heat if funding isn’t reinstated and increased. The senator, who fought last year for increased funding, has once more stated that she will be aggressive in advocating for more funding for Mainers again.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas not far off, it’s going to be a Dickensian holiday for many Americans, I’m afraid.