Why Hate Heating Assistance?

Fred Clark makes a very good point here. You’d think that pro-corporate Republicans like Joe Barton, Dick Cheney, and George Bush would be all in favor of low-income heating assistance programs, like LIHEAP, that allow poor families to buy oil to heat their homes—because ultimately that money just ends up in the pockets of Exxon and Shell executives. It’s corporate welfare, only it actually does some good on the side. Republicans should be all over that, right? Guess not—Congress still refuses to fund the program at the necessary levels, despite record high heating costs this winter, forcing families to rely on Venezuela for heating oil aid. The joy of seeing people freeze to death, apparently, outweighs the joy of helping everyone’s favorite oil companies out.

Also, if the GOP really wanted to lower costs for programs like LIHEAP—which, when it comes down to it, only amounts to a percent of a percentage point of the federal budget anyway—the party could support federal proposals to “weatherize” old homes, by plugging up leaks and making old homes more heat-efficient. Everyone’s utility bills will be lower in the long run, and Congress could spend less on aid. Again, this too would achieve a core Republican goal—reducing spending—and do good things. But no. Too sensible, apparently.