Draconian cuts of Pell Education Grants, Food Stamps, community block grants, the environment, from our national parks to the Great Lakes reclamation project, intended to keep one of the world’s largest fresh water reservoirs viable, and perhaps most savage and shameful of all, the slashing by fifty percent of home heating assistance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps the poor, elderly and handicapped pay their heating and cooling costs. This is a death sentence to tens of thousands of our fellow citizens on fixed incomes who cannot afford skyrocketing utility rates.
According to a report released ahead of the President’s budget by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA), record numbers of households over the last three years have been requesting heating assistance due to the economic downturn and the rising cost of home energy. Demand for assistance is expected to reach a record 8.9 million in fiscal year 2011, even as the program is slashed. The number of households served by LIHEAP has increased from about 5.8 million in FY 2008, to 7.7 million in FY 2009, to 8.3 million in FY 2010.
"According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 650 people died of hypothermia each year between 1999 and 2002. About half of those people were over 65 years old. According to the National Institute on Aging, older people are at increased risk for hypothermia, even after exposure to a small drop in temperature, and even while indoors. The institute recommends keeping thermostats between 68 and 70 degrees. "Even temperatures that just feel chilly to younger people may be dangerous to older people," said Dr. Jack Guralnik at the National Institute on Aging."Then again, according to your cynical political calculations, as diagnosed by a doctor-turned-political-diagnostician like Charles Krauthammer, you’re playing the Left and your liberal base against the Right, throwing up a smokescreen, just so you can keep your pledge (which should have been no pledge at all, but an ironclad article of faith) that Social Security and Medicare will not be touched — let the Republicans take that third-rail shock, if they dare. Medicaid, hey that’s poor people, right Mr. President? They have no political clout, no representation, no powerful advocacy groups. They’re just pawns, as they’ve always been, in this Reaganesque Washington parlor game of yours, sir.
Shame on you, Mr. President.
We know we’re being played, Mr. President. But when the pushback comes from both parties:
“31 senators — including John Kerry (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (R-Me.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) — sent OMB director Jack Lew a letter Friday challenging the cuts. On the House side, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Obama’s budget means families will be “forced once again to decide between heating and eating.”We also know this sledgehammer approach isn’t very effective “triangulation” let alone conduct becoming of a Democratic president.
Shame on you, Mr. President.
Meanwhile, one of every third dollar (total Defense outlays) of this budget is spent on the Pentagon war machine to perpetuate this war economy on the backs of the poor in the euphemistic line items, “discretionary non-Defense spending.” This is Orwellian perpetual war come to life. Are we really to believe that $2.5 billion can’t be found in the Pentagon’s war budget instead of condemning our elderly on fixed incomes to statistically significant deaths during heat or cold waves?
Here’s my proposal, Mr. President. Take the Afghanistan/Iraq/Pakistan wars off-budget. COMPLETELY OFF-BUDGET. Impose a WAR TAX on the richest one percent to pay for every last penny of our military crusades in these godforsaken countries. Let those motherfuckers on whom you lavished another round of UNSUSTAINABLE and UNJUST tax cuts pay THEIR FAIR SHARE — FOR ONCE! They’re profiting from it. They’re the war profiteers, the oil and gas tycoons, the corrupt government contract racketeers. Let these scum PAY for their damned wars.
The late, great comedian George Carlin once said:
You know how I define the economic and social classes in this country? The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there... just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep 'em showing up at those jobs.Only now those jobs have disappeared somewhere in China, India and the ravaged Reagan-(Obama?) middle class is beginning to slide into poverty in ever-larger numbers.