Once again Trump wants to take away from the poor in order to help fund Defense and his Wall
Jul 2, 2017
Donald Trump has proposed eliminating heating aid for low-income Americans, claiming it’s no longer necessary and full of fraud. People needn’t worry about being left in the cold, he says, because utilities cannot cut off customers in the dead of winter.
But he is wrong on all counts!
The proposal to kill the program, which has distributed $3.4 billion to about 6 million households this fiscal year, will face strong opposition in Congress.
Forty-three senators from mostly cold-weather states already signed a letter urging the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee to ensure funding for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, known in many states by its acronym, LIHEAP.
In Maine, the poorest state in New England, the program helped nearly 77,000 people over the past winter, and those numbers represented less than a quarter of eligible households, said Deborah Turcotte of MaineHousing, which helps to run the program.
Mark Wolfe, of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, said that the Trump administration is relying on an old General Accounting Office report on the fraud claim, and that improvements have been made since then. In Maine, for example, only 100 cases – 0.3 percent of all submitted applications – are being investigated for potential fraud, according to MaineHousing.
And programs aimed at preventing utilities from being turned off wouldn’t protect everyone. Utility regulations vary, with some states preventing shutoffs during the entire winter and others doing so only on exceptionally cold days.
And there’s absolutely no requirement for heating oil and propane dealers, which are not regulated like electric and natural gas utilities, to make deliveries to customers who cannot pay. That’s a big problem in the Northeast, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the nation’s residential heating oil consumption.
Health and Human Services Secretary Thomas Price, who contends the LIHEAP program doesn’t demonstrate “strong performance outcomes,” said:
. . . difficult decisions are necessary to streamline the government to focus on the administration’s goals of defense and public safety.
Nationwide, the average home heating cost last winter was $1,448 for propane, $1,227 for heating oil, $902 for electricity and $577 for natural gas.
Many observers refuse to accept that the program will be eliminated altogether.
It’s just too popular in Congress, and it also distributes aid to poor people in states like Florida and Arizona to keep cool on blazing hot summer days.
Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, said he and other senators, including fellow Mainer Susan Collins, a Republican, will fight for the program, which he said ensures that needy people “aren’t forced to make the impossible choice between heat and food, medications, or other necessities.”
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