Journalism in the Public Interest

Will Obama’s Proposed Cuts to Heating Assistance Leave Poor Out in Cold?

Citing a need for stricter belt-tightening, President Obama has said he wants to slash almost $2.5 billion from a program that helps low-income families pay their energy bills. The White House says lower oil prices mean funding can be reduced without leaving Americans too far in the cold. But whether that's actually the case is an open question.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, began in the 1980s as a federal program that helps eligible households pay for gasoline, oil and electricity to heat and cool their homes.

The administration has defended its proposal -- which would bring the program's current $5.1 billion budget down to pre-2008 levels -- by claiming that fuel prices simply aren't as high as they were three years ago.

But fuel prices can be volatile, and they have actually been trending upward. Last week, the Associated Press reported that gasoline prices in the U.S. "have jumped to the highest levels ever for the middle of February," while oil prices "hit $100 per barrel in January for the first time since 2008." And critics of Obama's plan say his fuel price argument ignores another factor that has record-setting numbers of Americans asking for LIHEAP help: high unemployment.

According to the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, an organization of state officials tasked with administering the program, 8.9 million households are expected to qualify for assistance this winter, up from last winter's 8.3 million. And while electricity costs fell and natural gas prices remain "cheaper than in recent winters," heating oil and propane prices are hitting record highs. All of this, critics of the proposed cuts say, means Obama's cuts will further stretch thin a program that will leave 3 million Americans without the assistance they need.

Some LIHEAP critics think the cuts make sense, arguing that the program is poorly administered. A Government Accountability Office report (PDF) that surveyed several states found the program was indeed susceptible to fraud after discovering more than $116 million in program funds were distributed to households using "fraudulent identity information."

But Mark Wolfe, executive director of the states' National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, said while fraud against the program is certainly an issue, it's not rampant. Benefits are relatively small (usually less than $1,000) and only distributed once a year, so defrauding a program like LIHEAP isn't likely to make someone rich.

"Unlike Medicaid, where you'll see very large fraud cases, it's difficult to steal a lot of money in LIHEAP," Wolfe said. "It's not easy to walk away with a lot of cash."

Meanwhile, political commentators have speculated that some of Obama's proposals, including the LIHEAP cuts, are essentially a feint by the administration, a way for Obama to show he's serious about cutting costs while pushing a proposal it knows won't go through. Whatever the strategy, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have already joined together to defend LIHEAP. This week, a group of more than 30 senators denounced the cuts, calling the impact of Obama's plan "devastating."

Barry Schmittou

Feb. 18, 2011, 2:19 p.m.

At the National Prayer Breakfast Obama said that “Christian tradition teaches that the world one day will be turned right side up.” But he said that until that happens, the poor and the struggling remain in his prayers.

His prayers don’t match his actions of cutting heating assistance for the poor !!

For more evidence of how Obama destroys those who are struggling, please go to to see quotes from numerous U.S. judges that prove Obama is allowing insurance company doctor’s to ignore brain lesions, multiple sclerosis, cardiac conditions, cancer, and they also attack psychological patients.

This insurance company makes huge campaign contributions to Obama !!

I pray ProPublica will cover this story soon because thousands of lives are being destroyed.

I have received letters from Obama’s DOL Director’s in Washington and Atlanta and they refuse to take any action after seeing the overwhelming evidence !!

Obama needs to get his head out of his ass!

Let’s “throw the baby out with the bath water” in order to stop those who abuse the system.  Meanwhile, the most vulnerable in our society are forced to bear the burden of immoral tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate entities.  So much for human compassion.  Why not cut $100 billion from the DoD budget and get the h- - l out of Afghanistan and Iraq???  Nah, gotta keep all those no-bid private contractors in the money….

Funds almost always materialize to promote the welfare of the greedy.  Our politicians have gotten their usual pay raises.  Yesterday i became aware of something that escaped me somehow before.  It seems Congressmen were tired of the animosity they felt each year they voted themselves significant and generous raises so they found a way around it.  No, they did not stop taking the raises, they merely made them automatic each year so that they would feel no ‘heat’ for having done so.

We came up with money to bail out fat cats on wall street whose unethical and immoral conduct brought the country to the very brink of disaster.  And now they are in fine shape, their lavish bonuses and salaries keeping them in their usual comfortable lifestyle.

This country too often does not serve the people, the people serve the politicians who serve themselves at others expense.

While ProPublica has done admirable and valuable work exposing some of the injustices that are ongoing, overall, the media has failed us.  It seems to me that ‘back in the day’ the media was quick to pick up on scandal and misconduct and the resultant pressure went a long way towards an ultimate remedy.

Now most of the media use what is going on for little attention grabbing articles that are allowed to disappear again overnight accomplishing nothing.

Failure stacked upon failure, greed by the greedy, self-serving conduct by the selfish, all conspire to leave the small/little people who make up America in precarious even dangerous situations.

Amazingly, overall, such things create barely a blip on our government’s radar screen.

Sad, demoralizing, anxiety-provoking, there is a long list of emotions resulting from our abandonment.  All these things change nothing and the big boys party on.

What lower oil prices…at $3.20+ a gal. what yr. is that suppose to take
affect….in the mean time the low-income/unemployed up in the NorthEast will just have to freeze…..well he did promise change, right
nice guy…....he’s nothing but a puppet, don’t cha know

Mr. Obama still wants to be Billy Bob’s president. That is never going to happen, not in 200 years. Mr. Obama is losing his base. I really thought that once Emanuel was gone things would change but Daily is just another idiot giving him the wrong information. If Obama cannot carry the rust belt, he’s history. IApparently he wants to be the youngest former president.

michael Blechman

Feb. 23, 2011, 7:13 p.m.

Where is Hugo Chavez?

Andrew Reinbach

Feb. 23, 2011, 9 p.m.

The LIHEAP cuts are truly a matter of life and death for the people receiving them. Here in Upstate New York, the annual HEAP allowance has been cut to $600 for the heating season—no more than 2 months worth of heating oil. And that’s only if you have a small, highly energy-efficient home—less likely than urban-based government planners would prefer to think, especially in a world that’s likewise cut back on weatherization programs for the older house of the poor and elderly. Most recipients are seniors living on Social Security in a winter that’s seen a goodly number of sub-zero nights.This entire problem has been created by Republicans who drove up the national debt and created the budget deficit crisis, and the blood’s on their hands, thank you very much.

Should I be amazed?  Why am I not, hmmm, lemmeeeee see.

Oh! I got it, fat cats always start the belt tightening on somebody else’s belt.

What I’d like to see is fat cat hussein obama do some tightening up of those vacations he and his bride like taking clear across the damn world.

Hussein is very predictable, but that’s pretty much every politician.

Actually, I’m damn disgusted with the lot of them including Roy Blunt who unfortunately is the Senator I have to put up with.

He proved himself to be the worthless swine he is when he defended the current plan of “the boys” to take down Proposition B, Missouri’s much-needed legislation to straighten up Missouri’s SHAMEFUL REPUTATION AS THE PUPPY MILL CAPITAL.

MY CONTEMPT for all these A-holes multiplies by the hour.

This falls right in line with the no COLA for Social Security recipients the PAST TWO YEARS.  He and “they” (you know, the congressmen who get an AUTOMATIC RAISE EVERY YEAR) say prices haven’t gone up any.  Maybe I’m Rip Van Winkle or may I have a brain disorder or maybe they are full of donkey crap.

And Hussein’s been printing out money like it was for the monopoly board game.  TOO BAD he didn’t tighten it for those BANKS TOO BIG TO FAIL.

That still rankles me, those bankers and wall street tycoons and the always accompanying attorneys at dislaw are doing just fine, thanks. 

This from BLOOMBERG:

“Cash bonuses to securities industry employees in New York City grew 17 percent, to $20.3 billion, for work in 2009, according to estimates in a report last month by the New York State Comptroller’s office. While the cash bonus pool for 2010 will probably be smaller, the average bonus may be bigger because after job losses the money will be divided among fewer employees, the report said.”

Is THERE SOMETHING WRONG with this picture?  WHY are the people responsible for bringing the economy and us to our knees still living the high life?

There’s a place that could use some belt tightening.

That’s it, “belt tightening” around the necks of all the bankers and wall street boys and politicians top down, just think how much we’d save just on their salary alone, never mind the cadillac insurance aspect.

I wonder if we couldn’t start a MOST TWITTERED with that suggestion, it just might catch on.

Of course, I have my prejudice I guess against the TWITTERING crowd, I don’t quite trust anybody into twittering.  What is the current updated word for too yuppie?  That doesn’t work anymore, but there’s gotta be a fill-in.

Anybody know?  I’ve been too busy trying to keep my head above water to know what the 2011 version of yuppies whatever have been up to.

I had occasion to cross the State Line into zip code 66212, one of the most well-endowed financially locations (they gave us, if you remember it a while back, the kids who mistook the hood ornament of a Mercedes for the peace sign). 

Didn’t look much different over there, my neighborhood looks like a guerilla combat zone.

killthebanksters bytaxes

Feb. 24, 2011, 1:32 p.m.

Retrouvons nous, tous les “indignés”, le 1° Mai 2011 pour faire tomber nos “Ben Ali”, Moubarak”, Khadafi” occidentaux!!

Tous ces “dictateurs” de la Finance mondialisée, ces corrupteurs avides sans qui les corrompus d’Afrique ou d’Asie n’existeraient pas!!

Nos PLACES Tahir seront les PLACES fortes de ces traders sans scrupules…

La PLACE de la Bourse à Paris, Wall Street à New-York, les Bourses de Francfort, Athènes, Milan, Madrid, Lisbonne seront nos PLACES de la Liberté” !!!

Exigeons la fin de la Spéculation qui ruine le peuple pour enrichir, sans limites, toujours la même oligarchie…

Réclamons une imposition dissuasive à partir d’un certain niveau déraisonnable de revenu…

80% au dessus d’1000000 d’€/an..

Taxons aussi fortement la spéculation court-termiste qui n’apporte rien aux entreprises et aux travailleurs, vrais créateurs de la richesse, mais tout aux traders…

La démocratie doit être aussi économique..

Le Peuple humilié, spolié, exploité, réclame la juste rétribution de son travail et la redistribution équitable des richesses qu’il contribue à produire !!

“TOUS EN PLACES !” le 1° Mai 2011



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