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Homeless people huddle over a steam vent for warmth near the Washington Monument in downtown Washington, January 7, 2014. A deadly blast of arctic air shattered decades-old temperature records as it enveloped the eastern United States on Tuesday, cancelli
Homeless people huddle over a steam vent for warmth near the Washington Monument.
A decent country would care about these things. A decent country would also probably do something about them.
For low-income households which rely on federal subsidies to meet the cost of their heating bills, the so-called “polar vortex” couldn’t have come at a worse time. Since 2010, the federal government has been steadily whittling away at the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), bringing total appropriations for winter heating down by about one-third, according to a 2013 report [PDF] from the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA). While government heating subsidies are still available, high energy prices and extreme weather could potentially stretch them beyond capacity. [...]

Recent cuts to food stamps may also jeopardize low-income families’ attempts to stay warm, albeit indirectly. According to the national food bank network Feeding America, nearly half of its clients have at one point been forced to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities. Since Feeding America reported that statistic, automatic cuts have slashed food stamps by $5 billion.

Since the Serious Person obsession continues to be cutting the federal budget during a recession and damn every one of the consequences, I suppose the more efficient approach will continue to be redefining what "decent" means. It still probably doesn't mean ending unemployment benefits during the dead of winter, but if we've already cut food to the children and heat for the elderly under the banner of freedumz I think the good ship Decent set sail a long while back.

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Originally posted to Hunter on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Hunger in America and Daily Kos.

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