Taking Away LIHEAP?

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As our media breathlessly pursues the current president’s Twitter droppings, the real rape of the American people goes on almost unreported.

About the only thing that is getting reported on besides what a truly incompetent president we have is the horrendous Republican health care bill. It is horrendous and it deserves as much scorn as possible with all sorts of calls to action.

But below these huge stories lie many lesser stories that will inflict huge damage to some portion of the American people. Many of these stories seem mundane and for the most part, the victims of the cuts are not huge in either number or fame. So if reported on at all they are assigned to the back pages of newspapers or magazines. A listing of proposed cuts can be found in this USA Today story.

One such instance is the current proposal to kill LIHEAP or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program. LIHEAP assists the poor in paying for heating in the cold months in states like Iowa. The most recent numbers I could find in a quick search for Iowa LIHEAP numbers were from a report by the Department of Health and Human Services from 2014.

From the report:

In a recent report, the Iowa Utilities Board found that 243,403 accounts were behind on their utility bills, and these households owed more than $46 million. About 15 percent of the accounts belong to LIHEAP recipients, and they owe approximately $11.7 million of the total outstanding balance.

By the end of February, Iowa LIHEAP said about 76,000 households had applied and received heating assistance. The program plans to take applications until April 30. It told the media that about 86,000 people will utilize LIHEAP assistance by the end of the application period, which is a slight increase from last year’s total of 85,000.

Undoubtedly there is most likely a great similarity in the list of those who receive LIHEAP aid and those who receive Medicaid.

As a citizen of a country that once prided itself on how it took care of the ill, the poor and the elderly we have to wonder just how low can this congress and administration go in their callous treatment of the less fortunate. Hunter at dailykos.com explored the issue Thursday and ended with this thought:

It would probably be unwise to assume that Senate Republicans would not dare do an inhumane thing for fear of public backlash. Not just when it comes to heating aid, but for the duration; the gene seems to have been removed from this particular crop of leaders. They seem to fear no retribution at all, at the polls, and their response to public anger at their public forums has been to simply cancel the forums, citing incivility from the people who will be harmed by their votes.

So yes, it’s possible the Senate will indeed work out a deal to cut the program. There’s no gain in pretending at a lower moral bound here, when there hasn’t been one identified anywhere else. We’ll have to keep our eyes on this one too.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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