The Freezing of Funds
December 11, 2002 3:31 PM   Subscribe

The Freezing of Funds. The White House is cutting funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the cold of December.
posted by four panels (24 comments total)
the Bush administration proposes a $300 million cut

And since Congress is not in session until January, no one is getting any funding cut in December... The budget proposals are just being sent out...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:40 PM on December 11, 2002

I wonder is 300 million could be made up if a couple of companies decided to pay taxes in the United States?
posted by four panels at 3:56 PM on December 11, 2002

Look, if poor people don't like having their utility funding cut, they should get their rich parents to give them money, or have their rich friends cut them in on the profits from the sale of a pro ball team, or raid their businesses' pension funds for it like any normal person would. There's no excuse for just sitting there freezing to death. It's un'Merican.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:23 PM on December 11, 2002

In this post 9/11 national emergency, we must reign in big government! Cut taxes and social services and spend more on war, I mean defense! It worked great for Reagan!
posted by The Jesse Helms at 4:48 PM on December 11, 2002

Every day, every goddamn day there's something that these pukes do to piss me off more and more. I'm neither Republican or Democrat, so you can toss that out.

As a Texan, I can not say how ashamed I am to have Junior as our president. As an American I'm ashamed that the other party is doing anything but sitting on their asses and letting this crap go on. As an American, I'm ashamed that the most any of us do is get on these message boards and spout and rant and rave. How much longer can this go on?

Okay all you Mensa Republicans. Tell me how wrong it is to be angry at a government that allows Enron, et al, that allows huge corporations like CSX to not only not pay taxes but get huge refunds, that politicizes war or some semblance thereof. Tell me how wrong I am and I'll tell you in advance, fuck you. Ban me, I don't give a shit. This has to stop.
posted by damnitkage at 4:52 PM on December 11, 2002

Oh come on, you pussies. I've gone to bed every night, every winter without any sort of heating, and I've done just fine.


Whaddya mean winters down here don't count?

Anyway, as much as I'm usually in favor of spending cuts, I don't see this as particularly useful. It would be nice to have a little context; if part of the budget is paying for extra logs for the lodge in Mammoth, I could see how this would be justifiable, but this doesn't look like the best program to be cutting.

(Spell Check keeps trying to change this entire post into the word "horsewhipper", should I be worried?)
posted by apostasy at 5:43 PM on December 11, 2002

LIHEAP is one of those unassialably good programs - it's been hailed for stopping more than a few mass die-offs during recent cold winters. Does it matter what the context is? Unless the administration has an explicit plan for providing heating aid through some other means, I don't see how more information could make this any less despicable. Let's not forget that a number of Bush's cronies in the oil and gas industry were recently accused of price fixing in California; not that these two are at all causally related, but it makes for a nice, very discomforting irony.
posted by risenc at 5:56 PM on December 11, 2002

Sometimes the White House plays the fucknut.
posted by shabrem at 6:00 PM on December 11, 2002

Our North American society hates the poor. We want them either dead, or enslaved. I believe I ranted about this the other day in another thread...
posted by five fresh fish at 6:08 PM on December 11, 2002

I believe I ranted about this the other day in another thread...

You mean that one where someone was saying how bad Bush is?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:32 PM on December 11, 2002

Naturally this is a wonderful post for the usual suspects to pile on Bush. (I particularly liked the "if only corporations would pay taxes", and the "fuck you, Ban me" bits.)

Oddly, bothering for a moment to actually read the article might alter opinions just a bit (or at least those that haven't already concluded that our entire continent "hates the poor") ... particularly the lines that read:

"The White House has requested $1.4 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, compared with $1.7 billion last year."


"The federal Administration for Children and Families said last year's LIHEAP program had a surplus of nearly $300 million, in part because of a warmer-than-normal winter, and that some of that money could be tapped if funds run short."

Hhmmm, one shouldn't need to be a "mensa Republican" to realize that the difference between 1.7B and 1.4B is precisely the amount of the surplus last year - 300M. While I realize how strange it is for anyone in government (city, state or federal) to actually cut the budget of a department with a surplus, that's precisely what this is.

Probably also not worth it to note that the article itself no one has yet frozen to death, and even if this bill passes, and if there is a shortfall, last year's suprlus can be used to make up for it.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:30 PM on December 11, 2002

Maybe they're just anticipating all the cheap-ass oil that'll be all over the place by this time next year...
posted by techgnollogic at 7:34 PM on December 11, 2002

Midas, your no fun. I was all excited about kicking poor people out on the street with no heat. But noooo, you have to come in with logic and ruin all my fun.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:49 PM on December 11, 2002

Well, Midas, the article asserts that the funds _could_ be used, not that they will be. Or that they're even available - "some of that money could be tapped" is hardly a response to the situations presented in the article, in which numerous localities report striking increases in demand for LIHEAP assistance already, along with a drop in their own resources. Perhaps the reason the article doesn't highlight a link between the amount cut and last year's surplus is that there isn't one - it's a coincidence, not a prudent cut in service. In any case, that's hardly the point - all evidence seems to indicate that LIHEAP will be in high demand this year, and that the administration shouldn't be cutting funds.
posted by risenc at 7:59 PM on December 11, 2002

The idea that they are cutting funds, but that funds in the same amount as those being cut will be available if needed doesn't seem tenable. If that is the case then they are not cutting funds. If they have the ability to borrow against last year's surplus (which is doubtful at best) then that is only a one year deal anyway.

This excuse-making bothers me about bush-supporters, either say the article is a lie, or the program is a waste of money. Nothing else makes sense. Steve says it won't happen by december, well there is another december next year, and it will also be cold. Midas tries to make it seem like, while the budget cuts are quite real, they won't have any effect on the amount the agency can spend. Those ideas don't make sense.
posted by rhyax at 8:23 PM on December 11, 2002

Well, Midas, the article asserts that the funds _could_ be used, not that they will be.

And states that cutting the money "_could_ affect more than 500,000 people who rely on aid to pay utility bills", not that it has, or will.

If they have the ability to borrow against last year's surplus (which is doubtful at best) then that is only a one year deal anyway.

Hardly doubtful. And the flippin' budget is only a "one year deal".

This excuse-making bothers me about bush-supporters, either say the article is a lie, or the program is a waste of money.

Perhaps the clinton-supporters could do better. According to the LIHEAP site itself:

"Federal funds for LIHEAP rose in FY 1986 to $2.1 billion, and then declined to $1.3 billion in 1995 and to $1.0 billion in FY 1997. Appropriations for the program peaked at $2.25 billion for the winter of 2000-2001 but had fallen to $1.7 billion by FY 2002."

For most of the Clinton years it was lower than even the $1.4B proposed by Bush. And has fluctuated considerably throughout it's history.

I also notice the article only mentions the most critical areas of apparent need ("In Pittsburgh, where layoffs at US Airways have hammered the economy, the Salvation Army said it has already spent 70 percent of its annual $10,000 home heating assistance budget"). Doesn't mention a single place where there might be a less demand than last year of course.

This December was colder (at least on the east coast) than last year. Doesn't mean January, February, or March will be. A govt. department ran a large surplus last year. Less is requested this year (though not less than some of the Clinton years). If the cut is too much, there's surplus to cover it, and more can be requested next year. I realize adjusting budgets based on the actual use of services is a revolutionary concept in government - but in real life it's often called "Accounting 101".

posted by MidasMulligan at 9:36 PM on December 11, 2002

A little extra research bears out my point: "The U.S. Department of Energy's statistical and research arm predicted that residential heating bills would rise an estimated $100 to $300 this winter from a year ago." From this article, It's Going to Cost More to Heat Your Home This Winter." The article also notes that the reason LIHEAP funds were not as drawn on last year was that winter temperatures were 20 percent above average, but that climatologists expect this winter to be back to the norm. So, Midas, yeah - even weathermen don't know what January will be like. But cutting funds from a lifesaving program because its funds weren't competely spent for one year is pretty short-sighted and callous. Especially when, on top of weather issues, there are simply more people in need of bill-paying assistance this year. Don't try to spin this as good government accounting - one year doesn't a trend make.
posted by risenc at 9:50 PM on December 11, 2002

Midas, a lot of sound and fury. But energy market deregualtion didn't occur in most states until W. Bush was in office, which then saw a severe spike in the cost of energy. Making LIHEAP assistant ever more important. There was simply less of a need in the 90s.
posted by four panels at 9:51 PM on December 11, 2002

A little extra research bears out my point:
Midas, a lot of sound and fury.

Hardly just sound and fury. And perhaps more than a little research might be in order. The norm is for the federal government to fund LIHEAP at lower levels, and then pass supplementary legislation to cover shortfalls. Virtually anything allocated in block grants by the feds will get used - in this instance, many states loosened the requirements for qualification over the last couple of years (welcome to the world of block grants ... in which state bureaucrats have large incentives to spend every penny, and virtually no incentives not to). States are now faced with making up the difference with their own supplements (which many are doing), or talking to Congress about raising the fed's number. This is normal. Happened during Clinton. Will happen during Bush. Trying to paint it as "Bush hates the poor" is simply ridiculous.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:46 PM on December 11, 2002

I don't believe Bush "hates the poor" anymore than he hates me. He obviously doesn't care about the poor, because he doesn't know the poor.

Mindsets like yours and Bush's, look to derive the most value out of the poor, not know nor care about them. Meaning, the poor service the needs of the middle class (think drive-thru window) and/or harrass it (think alcoholic bi-polar on certain street corners) and/or supply it with blow (think bling bling whitey). Regardless, the poor's problem is the poor's problem. Underfunding it in time of recession and growing unemployment makes it even more so, again, the poor and working class' problem who become more and more powerless politically to do anything about it.

How lucky for you that you happen to be well-off and also conveniently endowed with a comprehension of "Capitalism Is Utopia 101" far and away more superior than any of your lefty fellow countrymen idiots.
posted by crasspastor at 11:10 PM on December 11, 2002

Sad. Sad that the potential difficulties some 500,000 people _could_ experience over one "flippin'" winter doesn't bother some....and that some of those same people seem more exercised about the oh so terrible "incentives" arising when states spend all their allotted money to help the poor warm themselves.

Everyone has their priorities, I guess. But hopefully, the poor will find warmth this winter. My own pity is reserved for those which no fire, external or internal, will likely ever warm.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:45 PM on December 11, 2002

Did I hear Midas "blame Clinton" again? The third tactic after attack/smear the messenger and "the article is a lie."

Compassion for the wealthy and corporations.

Conservatism for the poor.

"Sorry, I never knew you." - Jesus

"When you do unto the least of these, you do unto me." - Jesus

I thought Duhbya was supposed to be a "born again" Christian who followed the teachings of Jesus. Ha!!

More the (re)Publican of that time.
posted by nofundy at 5:57 AM on December 12, 2002

"The norm is for the federal government to fund LIHEAP at lower levels" doesn't explain why, at a time when states are facing immense budget pressure, the administration apparently finds it necessary to increase their burden. I'm not about to defend the lower funding levels of the Clinton years, but keep in mind that there were a lot fewer unemployed people six years ago. Sure, Midas, this will probably be taken care of by supplementary grants, or by Congressional intervention - but none of that justifies cutting a program that, according to economic and climatological indicators - will be very much in demand this year.
posted by risenc at 7:11 AM on December 12, 2002

The real shame will be if something like REACh, which is funded by LIHEA, and is more focused on reducing the need for assistance (rather than just providing assistance) , gets cut. (Disclosure: I'm part of an evaluation team for one state's REACh program, to ensure that it actually is reducing need.) I don't know if REACh is handled completely separately and just administered by LIHEA, or if it's funding comes out of LIHEA's. If it's the latter, a squeeze on LIHEA probably means a squeeze on REACh, which would be unfortunate.
posted by claxton6 at 7:57 AM on December 12, 2002

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