Truth to Power

Ever been cold, Mr. President?

You ever been cold, Mr. President?

I have. You remember it.

I lived for a number of years in a house where the main furnace died, and all the heat for the drafty frame structure was furnished by a small space heater in the front room. I began sleeping on the couch, and even so I fell asleep watching my breath form clouds in the air. Cold, Mr. President. Cold that hurts.

So when I read the following, all I can recall is how I felt those winters, shivering under a quilt:

White House to Cut Energy Assistance for the Poor

Budget proposal would cut billions from aid program.

President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget will cut several billion dollars from the government’s energy assistance fund for poor people, officials briefed on the subject told National Journal.

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.

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. </em>

Now, we can debate all day whether the government has the right, or the obligation, to keep people from freezing to death. Me, I’m all for it. Nobody makes a choice between a big screen TV and heat. They make the choice between food, or gas, or medical bills and heat. Tough choices.

How about you make some tough choices, Mr. President? Instead of attempting to appease the GOP-led house, who would slam you for curing cancer, how about you stop our wars of choice in the Middle East? How about you choose to shut down the vast network of military bases we have spanning the globe, fostering anti-American feelings world wide?

Now, this may well all be political theater, a ruse to show you’re “serious” about the deficit, which of course you’re not. Nobody who extends the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to discuss deficits. And maybe once this notion of making an insignificant cut in our budget on the backs of the lessor among us raises enough of a stink, you’ll back off it and then aim your sights at what you really meant all along, but I sort of doubt it. No, this is yet another callous example of the utter disregard you and Washington have for the voiceless. Cold people don’t rally. They can’t hire lobbyists. Now, they might stage a sit-in of government offices, because you know, those places have heat. But ultimately they’ll be ignored while you kneel and gobble at the feet of big business.

How about you trim off a bit of the rampant fraud that infests DC? Such as this, from the Treasury Department:

Buried in the Department of the Treasury’s 2003 Financial Report of the United States Government is a short section titled “Unreconciled Transactions Affecting the Change in Net Position,” which explains that these unreconciled transactions totaled $24.5 billion in 2003.[2]

The unreconciled transactions are funds for which auditors cannot account: The government knows that $25 billion was spent by someone, somewhere, on something, but auditors do not know who spent it, where it was spent, or on what it was spent. Blaming these unreconciled transactions on the failure of federal agencies to report their expenditures adequately, the Treasury report concludes that locating the money is “a priority.”</em>

I’m sure this hasn’t been corrected, nor is it the only example. It was just one that a 30 second search found. How about you find more, Mr. President. Or how about you visit a cold frame house in East Atlanta and talk about choices- while your breath hangs in the air.

But somehow, I doubt you’ve ever been that cold in your life. Maybe that’s the real problem- you just haven’t got a clue.

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