According to National Journal, President Obama’s “proposed 2012 budget will cut several billion dollars from the government’s energy assistance fund for poor people.”
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, would see funding drop by about $2.5 billion from an authorized 2009 total of $5.1 billion. The proposed cut will not touch the program’s emergency reserve fund, about $590 million, which can be used during particularly harsh cold snaps or extended heat spells, three officials told National Journal.
In 2010, Obama signed into law an omnibus budget resolution that released a total of about $5 billion in LIHEAP grants for 2011. Pointing to the increasing number of Americans who made use of the grants last year, advocates say that LIHEAP is already underfunded. The American Gas Association predicts that 3 million Americans eligible for the program won’t be able to receive it unless LIHEAP funding stays at its current level.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following press release statement in response:
“The President’s reported proposal to drastically slash LIHEAP funds by more than half would have a severe impact on many of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens and I strongly oppose it. I understand and support efforts to reduce the deficit, but we should be looking at comprehensive tax reform and mismanaged programs, not slashing a safety-net program vital to many elderly and low-income families. Current LIHEAP funding is only enough to help about 35 percent of the poor families eligible in New Hampshire. This proposed reduction would take away heating assistance from over 10,000 families in our state. In the middle of a winter in which we’ve seen brutal cold and repeated blizzards, enough to prompt the President to release emergency LIHEAP funds, it should be more clear than ever that cutting this funding in half does not make sense.”