Wealthy Americans aren’t being asked to pay a dime more than pre-Bush-era tax rates to close the budget deficit. Oil & coal companies are still getting their billions in subsidies. But as MSNBC’s Ned Resnikoff reports, conservatives are fine with forcing low-income families to suffer in the bitter winter cold without heat in the name of “austerity”:
For low-income households which rely on federal subsidies to meet the cost of their heating bills, the so-called “polar vortex” couldn’t have come at a worse time. Since 2010, the federal government has been steadily whittling away at the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), bringing total appropriations for winter heating down by about one-third, according to a 2013 report [PDF] from the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA). While government heating subsidies are still available, high energy prices and extreme weather could potentially stretch them beyond capacity.
Programs like LIHEAP “have been cut to the bone,” said NEADA executive director Mark Wolfe. “There’s no flexibility in these programs anymore.”
While millions of households were forced to make do with smaller grants, the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration forced some families to go without any assistance at all. All in all, the NEADA estimates that sequestration caused about 300,000 families to lose home energy assistance.
In Massachusetts alone, more than 100,000 households depend on LIHEAP to stay warm in the winter.
Never forget that social safety net programs aren’t driving our current deficits – for example, Social Security is solvent through 2038 & Medicare is solvent through 2024, and even those dates are extremely likely to slide further into the future. The debt is fueled by the lingering effects of the Bush tax cuts, Bush recession & Bush unfunded wars.