Friday, December 2, 2011

President Leads to Lower Low Income Heating Assistance This Winter

Isn't There a Democrat in the White House?

When talking about the Federal Budget, the spending numbers are so high that what seems to be large numbers to the rest of us is really not all that significant.  Conservatives for example talk about how eliminating the Estate Tax might only cost $10-$30 billion a year, compared to a $3 trillion spending budget.  Those who support the idiotic plans to send unmanned exploration rockets to Mars and to continue to support the manned space program also cite its insignificant costs of only tens of billions a year.

Although it shouldn’t be, it is always somewhat of a surprise when the budget cutters focus in on a really small target and cut expenditures of programs that have a huge impact on people’s lives.  Such is the case with the government’s program to help people pay for heating their homes.

Under Mr. Obama’s proposed budget, the overall heating aid program would get about $2.6 billion, down from $4.7 billion in 2010-11.

As the New York Times reports, the impact of these cuts are severe in places like the state of Maine, where cold winters and reliance on oil fired furnace make any cut in home heating assistance a real hardship.

At Penquis, a nonprofit agency in Bangor where people can apply for federal heating aid, more than 9,000 households have done so since August, said Melanie Hurlburt, a division manager there. The agency is booked solid into January for appointments to apply for heating assistance, she said, but this year’s average benefit of $332 will buy only 100 gallons of fuel. The Maine Energy Marketers Association, which represents the state’s heating oil dealers, estimates that an average household uses about 850 gallons a year.

So what happens when you cannot afford to buy heating oil?  Not a difficult answer, you live in a cold house.

In Bangor, the average low in January is seven degrees. Rebecca Brunton, a recently divorced mother of three, applied for heating aid at Ms. Hurlburt’s office the other day in hopes of avoiding the situation she found herself in last winter: so behind on her oil bill that she stopped getting deliveries. She ended up lugging a five-gallon can to the gas station every day and buying $20 worth of kerosene at a time.

Maine elected an ultra-Conservative governor last year.  He doesn’t look like much of a source of help.

Maine is more dependent on oil heat than any other state, and Gov. Paul R. LePage, a Republican, recently called for cutting heating oil consumption in half by 2014, partly by bringing more gas lines into the state.

but exactly how that will help in January of 2012 was not stated.  We are sure the Governor is cheered by the fact that private citizens and non-profit groups are stepping up.

For now, a patchwork of local fund-raising projects is seeking to replace some of the lost federal money. One of those projects is led by the author Stephen King, whose red Victorian home on a hill here, with a wrought-iron fence adorned with spiders and bats, is something of a local talisman.

which will allow the Governor to claim he didn’t raise taxes and didn’t allow his citizens to freeze to death, two accomplishments that surely mean re-election.

But the real villain here for reason unknown to anyone is the Obama Administration.  They are proposing cuts so deep that

The House and the Senate are considering smaller but still significant cuts, with the final amount yet to be determined.

See Mr. Obama, when the Conservatives in the House think you have gone too far, you have really, really gone too far.  But don’t worry about the people of Maine, you enjoy your nice taxpayer funded large white clad house in the city, and your taxpayer funded central heating.  And be sure and cheer if Congress approves an unmanned Mars Lander program, after all, spending that money on heating assistance would only make the recipients want to be warm next winter.

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