Much is being said about President Trump’s budget proposal that literally slashes the funding to life-saving programs in the United States. The initial budget is quite shocking, especially considering that the deep cuts are being made in part to give more tax give-aways to the rich, and to fund dramatic increases to the military.
Some of the cuts seem unnecessary, such as ending the National Endowment for the Arts, but some of these cuts will literally kill people.
One such program is the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps 6 million poor Americans heat their homes in the winter, is slated to be abolished under Trump’s proposed budget. The program has already been dramatically cut over the years, but now will likely end forever.
If this happens, poor Americans will actually die.
Too often in political discourse people exaggerate the potential outcomes of policy changes they disagree with; fear has a way of doing that. But in this case, it is not an exaggeration at all: people will actually die.
If you live in one of the northern states, heat isn’t a luxury– winter temperatures can be unbearable in some places from November to early April. And if you’re poor? Good luck with that.
Heat isn’t cheap. Just a hundred gallons of heating oil can run over $200 even when prices are reasonable. A cord of wood can easily average $250. Even in energy efficient homes, it is entirely plausible to spend $250-$400 a month in heating costs, depending how cold it is and what type of heat you’re using. As a native of the north, I can’t remember when I’ve spent less than $250 a month on heat, and I never turn the thermostat above 61.
In a country where even working two full time jobs barely helps to make rent, or where the poor elderly live on a very small, fixed income, there’s not extra to safely heat a home for a long winter.
And this is exactly why we have the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program– people would freeze to death without it, or try to heat their homes in unsafe ways that can also lead to death. Mark Wolf, of the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association, put it this way:
“People are going to die. Someone will say ‘Oh that’s extremist,’ but how can you take this much money away from this group of people and not think people will die?… If you take away assistance from very poor families, some of them will have their heat shut off. Some will turn their heat down to unsafe levels. And some of them will die.”
Trump’s budget is beyond outrageous– it’s actually dangerous.
Want to cut needless spending? Fine.
But ending heating assistance to the impoverished among us is not needless spending– it’s what keeps them alive during a long winter.
Please take a moment and call your local congress person or state senator, and urge them to oppose the Trump budget– because any budget cut that would lead to the death of the poor, is an immoral budget.