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GOP cuts funds for heating aid
NY Times Editorial
A Chilling Departure From the Capitol
December 25, 2005

One of the shabbiest shell games of the year was played out in the closing hours of Congress in its now-you-see-it, now-you-don't offering of some badly needed winter heating aid to the nation's working poor. The climactic moment occurred when Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, huckstering his most treasured goal, tried to sell oil drilling in his state's pristine wildlife preserve by promising it would help finance a long list of shoppers' bonuses for his colleagues: extra money for flu vaccine, hurricane reconstruction, first-responder radios and - if you vote yes right away - $2 billion in extra heating aid for the poor this cold winter.

Mr. Stevens's cunning warning was that all those extras would die on the vine unless Alaska drilling was approved. His cynical flimflammery was deservedly rebuffed as enough opponents stood firm against the oil drilling. And soon enough the word went round that things like flu vaccine and hurricane aid were not endangered after all.

Not so the extra fuel aid for low-income families. There was a heating supplement tied to the Alaska proposal, as Mr. Stevens promised. But there was also a separate $2 billion appropriated for the same purpose elsewhere in the legislation - unconnected to the Alaska floor machinations - that somehow was struck from the final bill as lawmakers rushed to recess. Malice? Who can say? Obviously the poor can't afford a campaign donation PAC to catch Congress's attention for an answer.

The government's home heating supplement now stands at a half or less of what the poor will need if predictions of a harsh winter pan out and fuel bills increase 25 percent. Various studies have established that, in a pinch, the poor scrimp on food purchases in order to meet heating bills. Yet Congress's stinginess is being compounded by the administration's recent decision to reject a request from New York and several other states to increase food stamp outlays to the poor as fuel bills mount.

Lawmakers insist that the $2 billion supplement technically had to be cut - but may be restored yet again next month. Believe that and we have an oil derrick to sell you in Alaska.

Commentary:
There's always enough money for republicans in Congress to give themselves a raise - over $3000 this year. But, we're led to believe we don't have enough money to help the poorest of the poor even though we have record oil prices.

There's something to be said about GOP consistency. They consistently say they support our troops but don't raise taxes to give them the armor they need, or pay for the war they say they support. It must be easy supporting a war and passing the bill to the next generation. When republicans start raising taxes (and stopping tax cuts) to pay for this war, then we can listen to them again. Until then every republican should be, no must be ignored.

By the end of this fiscal year, the war in Iraq will have cost us over $500 billion and every single penny was borrowed. There isn't a single member of the GOP that supports the military. If they did, they raise taxes and pay for it. Talk is cheap.