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As rumored prior to the release of President Obama's proposed 2012 budget, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program will take a serious hit, roughly a 50 percent cut. As David Dayen put it prior to the budget's release,

The Administration says this lowers LIHEAP assistance to where it was in 2008. But that was before an economic crisis and an increase in poverty. Simply put, more people need this service now. They also intimate this is a subsidy for dirty energy companies, as most heating gets derived from coal-fired power plants. This is a bizarre kind of statement, which assumes that there’s no way to move away from coal and make sure Americans don’t freeze in their homes at the same time.

Not surprisingly, this cut came up in a bloggers' call with the White House this evening ... and the response suggests something ...

This evening, I joined a number of bloggers (including at least two DKos frontpagers) in a call with several White House officials (audio available there), Congressional Budget Office spokesman Ken Baer and White House adviser David Plouffe. While discomfited by much of what I heard and about issues for which I wished to ask questions but didn't have the opportunity, something came up that inadvertently might have revealed something quite concerning about White House thinking. It is unlikely that this was a satisfying call for anyone (including Baer and Plouffe). As Susie Madrak put it:

It wasn't likely that bloggers would be happy with the conversation, since once we got into the details of arguing different cuts, it looked as though we were buying into the White House frame that the cuts were urgently needed in the first place, and most of us don't believe that's true.

Baer's opening remarks focused on "shared sacrifice." Some bloggers weren't buying it. I know I didn't.

Many questions challenged the imbalance, with marginal costs for the richest one percent and significant cuts to the most vulnerable among U.S. Not surprisingly, the cut to LIHEAP was raised, whether it was appropriate to cut assistance to poor people amid our economic troubles.

Ken Baer repeated the explanations that were swirling around well prior to the budget's release:

  • LiHEAP skyrocketed in 2008 with oil prices and didn't get cut that much as oil prices fell.
  • This is, therefore, simply recovering the increase that occurred during that period of very high oil prices.

Sounds reasonable, no ...?

We had a spike of oil prices and, well, we won't have it again so we can go ahead and cut these excess funds.

A minor problem ... Anyone note that oil topped $100 / barrel this past week? Or, did you realize that there are knowledgeable people (such as Shell's ex-president) predicting $5+ gallon gasoline in 2012 due to increasing global demand and an inability to increase supply to meet that demand.

What is the terrifying implication of the Baer's discussion of the LIHEAP cuts? This sort of thinking that the past spike was abnormal suggests that Peak Oil simply isn't part of the White House discussion.

The risks of Peak Oil for the U.S. economy and national security are hard to exaggerate. In short, Peak Oil refers to a physical reality that 'cheap and easy oil production' will inevidently peak out and start an inexorable decline. While alternative fuel supplies might emerge, they will almost certainly have worse EROEI (energy return on energy invested) ratios and our oil (liquid fuel) supplies will almost certainly trail (fall short) of desired global demand. We are burning 10s of (nearly 100) fossil fuel calories for every calorie of food that makes it to our table. What happens when oil prices spike and, well, might not even be available? As oil peaks and production declines even as demand increases, the 2008 price spike and collapse might look like a mild event in retrospective. The most critical tool to dealing with this challenge: openly recognizing that it exists and taking demand destruction steps (efficiency) so that we might keep aggregate demand within the production capability of the global oil system.

Baer's comments suggest that a core assumption in the budget preparation is that LIHEAP can be cut because the 2008 oil price rise was something unusual rather a presage of what we are likely to see with ever-increasing frequency with ever greater severity.

When looking to the House Republicans anti-science rejection of reality, we would hope to turn to the White House for reality-based sanity. Baer's few words makes me wonder whether the White House has a sanity-based realistic perspective about Peak Oil.

And if I had the chance to ask a question ... [an update]

While there is no such thing as perfect, if you listen to the bloggers' call, I believe that you would likely agree that the questions were reasonably strong and sought to push the two for answers on serious issues. I did not have the chance to ask a question and was flipping through four four different questions that I was considering. I think that I would have used this one:

If, in the 21st century, energy challenges (such as Peak Oil) and environmental challenges (like Global Warming) represent viable existential threats to the nation, then shouldn't these be considered as core national security issues? And, if these are national security issues, why should Department of Energy (and other programs, such as rail programs) programs designed to address Peak Oil and create clean-energy programs face an artificial freeze to spending that we simply aren't seeing in the Department of Defense? Quite simply, we need to ask what is the best path to assure national security and are there questions as to whether spending $10s of billions to develop a new manned bomber do more to secure American national security than investing these same resources to cut our oil usage. How does the budget reflect this?

The response almost certainly would not have satisfied me, with talk of 'energy innovation funding in DOE' and High-Speed Rail likely to have come. (And, likely without mention of the serious things going on in the Defense Department to reduce the military's oil dependency.) Even so, it would have put several issues on the table meriting discussion.

And, by the way, a note of appreciation for the WH for having calls like this -- they don't simply invite 'cheerleaders' and they often get, as I would suggest here, questions that don't seem to come from the traditional media outlets.

 A note about LIHEAP. This program has always troubled me in the sense of 'give a man a fish, he has dinner. Teach a man to fish, he has food for a lifetime' Okay, putting aside the issue of stressed fish stocks, the LIHEAP solves immediate problems during a winter while not doing anything to solve (or even ameliorate) longer term problems. To me, far more appropriate policy would be to strengthen and accelerate weatherization and other energy efficiency programs in a path to reduce the necessity for LIHEAP with each passing winter season.

: See David Dayen's write up at FireDogLake, On Blogger Call, A Claim that Spending Cuts Would Hurt in March But Not October.

Originally posted to A Siegel on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 08:57 PM PST.

Also republished by Anything But Oil.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Just for Reference: State Laws (14+ / 0-)

      on utility disconnect moratorium and restrictions:

      If health care is not basic necessity, try living without it.

      by Into The Woods on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 11:41:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  LIHEAP is used for more than (20+ / 0-)

        regulated electricity and natural gas.  People who heat with fuel oil and propane are buying from independent retailers who are not governed by utility disconnect restrictions in many states.  Cash and carry.

        My wife is a propane retailer.  Our choice will be to drop our LIHEAP customers who can't pay or subsidize their heat ourselves, one way or another.  We will see how it goes.

        Liberal, Democrat, Atheist, Socialist, Communist, and Fascist. I'm the whole package.

        by docterry on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:08:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here's hoping you guys can supply them, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, radical simplicity

          one way or another. I've been in the position of having to trim seasonally-necessary heating to save on my energy bill, and freezing my knuckles solid as a result. (I have arthritic hands, and if I wanted to do my coursework I couldn't wear gloves.)

          For better or for worse, though, you couldn't set the thermostat any lower than 50 F, and at 40F the all-electric HVAC unit would go into emergency mode and run constantly at full power - which meant although there was always a minimum usage on the bill, at least my roommates and I weren't going to have to worry about burst pipes.

          Do propane or oil heating systems have an emergency fuel reserve built in? (Something you can't use under normal circumstances, but by hitting a big red "Emergency Heat" button you can engage?)

          "Neskon would be a good choice, except he's a flame-trooper. They're all bug-eyed madmen."

          by Shaviv on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 08:47:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No emergency reserves (0+ / 0-)

            The tanks hold what they hold, nothing fancy inside.  If a customer is between a rock and a hard place we can work with them, but it is not as easy as it used to be.  In the past we could keep a customer at no profit or a small loss when they hit a rough patch, but these days it is very hard to do that for months or even years, and I am afraid we are coming to that.  There is an awful lot of poverty out there, which has been invisible for the last 40 years.

            We are a small, family-owned and run business and ours is a familiar story.  The recession hit us hard, the banks are killing us on our loans and line of credit, and health insurance costs go up by double-digit percentages every year.  I can't understand why every small business isn't pressing for the public option single payer solution.

            Liberal, Democrat, Atheist, Socialist, Communist, and Fascist. I'm the whole package.

            by docterry on Fri Feb 18, 2011 at 08:07:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Damned tough position to be in. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          If you don't survive as a business, you can't keep providing propane to anyone. But cutting people off, in February, depending on where you live, can be pretty drastic.

          I wonder if any local charities or churches have emergency heating programs?  Often, when small private efforts exist, the people who need them may not even know about them.

        •  State Laws provide a swiss cheese (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          safety net.

          What I found last time I skimmed through their summary listing suprised me.

          Some northern states have little or no protection (ND?!?).

          Others have provisions keyed to eligibility for subsidy, which may mean that budget cuts effectively modify state law protections if eligibility standards are stiffened to account for fewer funds.

          Many require as a condition of continued service that the use enter into an agreement to pay back the money.  The summary does not make clear what the terms of that provision are but the devil would be in the details.

          As you say, each state law may apply to only a portion of the utilities currently providing service in that state.

          What is clear is that the initial denial coming from some even here on dk that "state law would protect these people from having their heat shut off" is bunk.  

          If health care is not basic necessity, try living without it.

          by Into The Woods on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:49:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  You don't have to disconnect someone (7+ / 0-)

        who buys propane, you just don't sell it to them.  Had it happen to us when I was a kid and it was hella cheaper then.

        "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."- J. Danforth Quayle

        by Sychotic1 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 08:37:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tipped and recommended (9+ / 0-)

      This is indefensible, period, end of discussion.

      "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

      by Ivan on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:41:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What's your action plan? (8+ / 0-)

      I live in Philadelphia, which has as high a percentage below the poverty line as any major city in the US.  So this will be a very big deal.

      How do we organize to protest these cuts?  Any thoughts?

      Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

      by aravir on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:47:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Isn't the LIHEAP emergency fund untouched? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      If I am not mistaken, isn't the emergency reserve untouched by these cuts, allowing the government to provide funds in the next emergency oil spike?

      Still, kudos to you for asking the questions, and kudos to the WH for answering them, even if the answer isn't satisfactory.

      Keep the lines of communication open.

      •  Whether the emergency fund is untouched or (14+ / 0-)

        not, the emergency fund gets tapped when the regular funds are gone - something that happens within weeks of the program's start each year.

        Last year, I know there were funds left in the emergency fund, because HEAP sent out unsolicited add'l funds at the end of the year.  With the cuts they are talking about though, both funds combined will come up very short.

        As it is, with prices where they are, heap benefits only pay for a couple deliveries a year - people receiving heap still have hefty utility bills to cover each winter.

        I haven't had much time to look at the budget since it came out - only heard a few short reviews on NPR, but that was enough to have me disgusted - for the HEAP cuts AND, perhaps even more so, if possible, for the cutting in half (I think that's what they said) of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

        The CDBG funds an amazingly diverse set of programs - from Child Welfare to seniors to health clinics - that serve lower income households.  I can't imagine where these programs will make up those funds - especially with the cuts to Community Action Programs, that are connected to/provide those same programs.  It is a travesty, and I am still in shock at what is in this budget given these economic times (those would be hard cuts to live with in GOOD times!).

        "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

        by MRA NY on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 07:18:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup. Even before the 2008 price hike (11+ / 0-)

          The program never came close to meeting the actual need for heating oil and propane. In most states, if you weren't among the first applicants each year, you simply didn't get funds. We know plenty of people who have lived in one room with an electric space heater for the winter, covering doorways with blankets to keep that meager heat from escaping into other rooms.

          Cutting this program is inhuman.

          And Adam is absolutely right: it's also being penny wise and pound foolish, since the best way to reduce the need for funds is to prevent the loss of heat by weatherizing homes, including all that crappy, drafty rental stock out there.

          •  So It Is Our DEMOCRAT President Doing This. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radical simplicity

            So, now where do we real democrats go?

            The image of freezing to death old folks and families is a horror we now have to live with?

            Not ME, I just won't go there.

            You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can always be honest.

            by mattman on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 11:16:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good question mattman (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mattman, A Siegel

              The political system is so completely rigged against the general populace right now, I'm really not sure. My focus is on the local level - working in my community to help the affected folks and to build a ground-up movement.

              I am a bit too cynical to believe that the normal "contact your congresspeople" and "call the White House" tactics will have any meaning whatsoever. The pattern over the last few years has been all too consistent.

          •  Preventing loss of heat (0+ / 0-)

            isn't all it's cracked up to be. Seriously. It costs big time money upfront to do it, and at the most one might save 10%. A savings which would require many, many years to recoup. Don't believe all the hype of the people seling windows, siding etc. I own some of those apartments and I spent the money to do it. Big mistake.

            Seems to me that concentrating on cheap energy would be a better investment. The price of heating oil can fluxuate by as much as 50% in a season. No LIHEAP or conservation programs can keep up with that.

            •  Huh??? (0+ / 0-)

              Best 10%????

              No, that is simply not true.

              You are very, very wrong with "concentrating on cheap energy ..."

              The issue is to do what is cost effective, not to assert that there is nothing cost effective.

              Honestly, on straight money terms, replacing windows is typically far down the list in terms of monetary savings.

              Much better: caulking (sealing air leaks), insulation, good temperature management, etc ...  

              And, a huge difference can be made with relatively small initial costs ...

              Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

              by A Siegel on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 04:11:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  As I wrote (0+ / 0-)

                I did all that. There is no "huge difference" and it is not cost effective given the upfront costs.

                Don't take my word for it though. Spend your money and try it yourself.

                •  Why don't you do your research .. (0+ / 0-)

                  If you found it not cost-effective, that is simply at odds with the research, the studies of real-world, etc ... Fine, you failed to do a cost-effective retrofit/improvements, this does not make it a rule set for all.  Your experience does not make a rule set.

                  In addition, 10% as a bad ROI?  Consider what Wall Street has returned for the average person.  And, does your 10% deal with (a) understanding the differing heat / cooling degree days over the years, (b) potential other items (people putting thermostat higher), (c) the fact that utility prices are, almost every in the United States, going up higher than inflation rates?

                  Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                  by A Siegel on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:05:59 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I Think You Need To Study (0+ / 0-)

                    the definition of ROI. I merely spoke of the energy savings my investment produced. And yes, I understand perfectly the concept of degree days and their use in computations, and obviously I used therms and gallons consumed, and not price. And I installed remote Honeywell thermostats so I could be sure of controlling the temperature settings.

                    Like I said, -spend your own money and then get back to me. The actual ROI is close to zero (unless it is being subsidized).


                    •  JEEZ ... (0+ / 0-)

                      Glad that you have the basis to analyze your ROI and that you have control of the information beyond what most people have.

                      Again, that yours did not payoff does not refute that payoffs are quite strong for attacking energy efficiency challenges in the home.

                      And, again, 10% is not a decent ROI?

                      And, well, I have "spent my own money" -- and worked with 10s of households to spend their money as an unpaid consultant who has worked the #s closely -- and read many of the analytical reports -- and ...

                      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                      by A Siegel on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:06:16 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Let me try to put ths another way (0+ / 0-)

                    Breast cancer screening is not cost effective. This is because the vast majority of women will never develop the cancer, but will incur the cost of annual screenings forever. It is cheaper just to treat the ones that finally show symptoms. Now, of course, for my wife and I, screenings ARE cost effective. But they are not for the insurance companies or the Government.

                    In the same way, weatherizing homes is a net win for reducing overall energy consumption, but for the person footing the bill, it's a loser.

                    Both seem counter-intuitive at first, but they are not.

                    Question: How many years would you think a homeowner should wait before his upfront investment in weatherization is paid for? Or, in other words, at what point are homeowners likely to jump at a weatherization investment in terms of years?

                    •  Sigh ... (0+ / 0-)

                      Weatherization is not 'a loser' depending on many factors and approaches.

                      Some points:

                      1. Making 'perfect' is far more expensive and far longer ROI than 'improving.

                      2. There are non-fiscal issues that are, in fact, part of the ROI.  Windows are not, in most cases, cost-effective in terms of fiscal ROI (let's say less than a 10 year simple ROI) yet new/better quality windows can make it more comfortable to sit by the window in summer or winter.  What is the 'value' of that comfort improvement. We can also point to looks (for that self-satisfaction, not real estate value: next point).

                      3.  There is the direct energy savings, then there is house value. Writ large, on renewables, they state a 10-20 times annual value of energy produced in terms of improved real estate value. Energy efficiency is less clear but some realtor work suggests perhaps a multiplier of 5 (and perhaps 10) in terms of savings in added real estate value is legitimate.  And, things like 'new windows' have more impact on real estate value than on energy efficiency cost savings.

                      4.  There is, again, the value of inflation protection -- energy prices are, for most Americans, going up faster than inflation over time.  Energy efficiency investments/efforts reduces that impact.

                      5.  An aggregate 7 year payback -- 10% -- is a pretty strong ROI for anyone expecting to stay in the home a long time, especially considering the other value streams.  

                      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                      by A Siegel on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:13:27 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  ROI (0+ / 0-)

                        To compute ROI we must have an investment and a return (or savings in this case). And you put forth 7 years as a time frame. Good. We'll work with that:

                        Homeowner A currently uses aproximately 1000 therms of NG annually to heat his home. The price is currently around $1.30 per therm. Thus his annual heating cost is $1300.

                        If the homeowner were to enter into a weatherization project that would save 10% on his energy use and be paid for in 7 years the project would cost $910.

                        Now, kindly outline a project for me that only costs $910 and yet will save 10% on heating costs? And realistically, how likely is a homeowner to part with his $910 in 2011 when he won't realize any gain on it at all until 2019?! Biden will have finished his 1st term as President and todays elementry school kids will be off to college. Remember, in finance, money today has far greater value than future money.

                        This is real world stuff. Not "Inflation Projection" "Aggregate Payback" or "Realtor Studies". You obviously work in the field. You should know better.

                        •  Sigh (0+ / 0-)

                          1.  Of course, it depends where you start.

                          2.  Fine, you want a 2 year payback, 45%? That what it sounds like with the focus on time of payback highlighting that seven years will be (well) past the Obama presidency.  Sounds like the type of Wall Street investment that we'd all like to have.  

                          3.  Assuming 'start' is low and work down by homeowner, here is a very shorthand work program:

                          - $50 for caulking and such material to reduce leaks and for insulating hot water pipes where accessible.
                          - $50-$150 for programmable thermostat
                          - $500 for attic insulation in attic (cellulose)

                          Those measures, costing less than your targeted $910, would return far more than that 10% for most American homeowners.  That doesn't address overall utility / energy efficiency from compact flourescents to systematically buying higher energy efficiency when purchasing to ...

                          As an example ...

                          PS:  Dangerous to make any assumptions or assumptions about work or studies or otherwise of anyone ...

                          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                          by A Siegel on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 08:30:17 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

  •  Obama the Potemkin Progressive (24+ / 0-)

    Yes we can freeze your ass off!

    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

    by deepsouthdoug on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:05:13 PM PST

  •  Hmmmmm........ (6+ / 0-)

    In 2008 oil was $150.00/ gallon.  Now it's $100.00/gallon.  Last week it was $90.00/gallon.   Seems appropriate to adjust your spending accordingly to the anticipated price of fuel.   The President's Budget still calls for over $2.5 BILLION dollars to be allocated for LIHEAP.  

    Obama's potential cuts equal slightly over 2% of the Budget.  Republican potential cuts equal slightly over 4%.  Neither is going to make a dent in the national debt.  This is the epitome of political posturing on both sides.  


  •  this is so disturbing (18+ / 0-)

    have the words peak oil ever passed the lips of anyone in the Obama administration.

    Great analysis.

    "The new weapon of choice is the broom." Kasr El Nile bridge. Cairo. 02/11/11

    by boatsie on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:14:10 PM PST

  •  Plouffe is a BS artist. (26+ / 0-)

    He thinks he can get the kids back in the corral for 2012 and  I don't think it will work.  Good luck with bringing your LIHEAP and Social Security cuts to Iowa and selling the "big picture" to Democratic caucus-goers.  

    Take the pledge on Social Security

    by 2laneIA on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:24:04 PM PST

  •  It's really not that bad (29+ / 0-)

    What with people living 3 families to a housing unit, there will be plenty of body heat when they huddle together to stay warm. /s

  •  The arts are screwed too (16+ / 0-)

    how did we end up with this republican stooge?

    I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use - Galileo

    by hamm on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:28:21 PM PST

  •  Many of the consumers on LIHEAP (9+ / 0-)

    are renters, not owners, who move often. Are you suggesting the taxpayer subsidize landlords improving their properties?

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I own rental property.

    •  Honestly ... (20+ / 0-)

      I would love to work through the 'who pays' to get rental property owners into a situation where it makes sense to be aggressive re energy efficiency.  

      So, yes, I would prefer to see that subsidy than what we saw in terms of $8000 for helping people buy homes.

      There are lots of ideas on how to foster this shift.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:32:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In some cases, it might be a question of getting (12+ / 0-)

        the local code enforcement agency to enforce their own rules. I know of more than one landlord here in TN who rents properties with sewage running out from under them, and holes in the floors so big animals can crawl through them--last summer, I saw a baby at the ER who lived in one of those properties who got bit by an opossum that crawled into her house. This same guy is renting out FEMA trailers that had been condemned by the federal government, and yet you don't see code enforcement doing a thing.

        •  The "ruleoflaw," American-style. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mattman, tonyahky, radical simplicity

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:25:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  There are plenty of (9+ / 0-)

          responsible landlords who are honest but wish to make a reasonable profit.  The challenge that exists in many situations is that (a) the tax/other code runs counter to making investments that improve the energy efficiency (maybe having to deduct over many years the depreciated cost of that investment; any increased rent that gains from the savings the efficiency creates would end up being taxed at a higher real rate than the depreciation would result in, etc ...), (b) tenants often (typically) pay the utilities, so direct benefits apply to the tenants, (c) our culture doesn't really value 'cost to run/own' as opposed to cost to buy.  If a landlord invests in a way that will save every tenant $25/month in utilities at a cost that might be assessed, honestly, at the equivalent of $10/month, what is the chance that the landlord would be able to succeed in the market with a rent $17.50/month higher than his/her competitor.

          Now, there are (plenty of) SOB landlords who might merit jail more than an income from underserved tenants living in buildings that fall below any reasonable code standard.  Writ large, I will bet that the 'decent' landlord (some great, some simply 'okay') is far more the norm ...

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:31:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's true--but remeber that poor people are far (8+ / 0-)

            more likely to be living in a property owned by an irresponsible slum lord, as opposed to a property owned by somebody decent. The landlord I noted in my comment above has several trailer parks where he rents out substandard housing--and he is the richest man in the whole county. Those kinds of landlords turn a profit by exploiting people who are either too poor, or whose credit has been ruined by a divorce, bankruptcy, or other financial difficulty to pass the credit check for something better.

            •  Writ large ... (5+ / 0-)

              I am not sure about the "more likely" in terms of the overall population of poor(er) people in the country. I would agree that those with less economic means have less ability to shift away from those irresponsible slum lords and are more vulnerable to their preying practices.  Note, to a certain extent, we are arguing about angels dancing on a pin of a needle.  I agree, wholeheartedly, about the value of real codes and meaningful enforcement of those codes to make such unethical/immoral/abusive practices something that people simply don't want to pursue because the 'system' won't let them get away with it.

              Can't remember the movie, but there was the comedy about the judge who sentences the landlord to live 30 days in the slum that he is letting deteriorate.  Comedy of course made it all come out rosy but, writ large imo, not a bad practice/concept.

              Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

              by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:58:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  One wonders, then, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              A Siegel, radical simplicity

              how he gets around code enforcement issues: does he pay off inspectors? Are there any, anyway? If they issue damning reports on him, what happens - does he pay off the people who would process them into fines or criminal charges? Or does he simply pay the fines, or pay off the prosecutor/judge/jury/etc., or threaten them, or...

              And so on.

              I'm going to go for my first guess that the town, county or state doesn't have the money to run an effective inspection program.

              "Neskon would be a good choice, except he's a flame-trooper. They're all bug-eyed madmen."

              by Shaviv on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 08:57:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  subsidize landlords? (15+ / 0-)

      Are you going to argue that improved energy efficiency does not benefit not only individual landlords and tenants, but the nation as a whole?

      We as a nation can't afford to have the benefits of energy-efficient housing limited to affluent homeowners.

      If the sig looks strange or acts strangely, I'm trying a new one with the shift to DK4 .

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 11:48:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Subsidizing improvements in energy efficiency? (14+ / 0-)

      Sure! No matter who does them. They're a vital national and even global interest.

    •  It's not much of a subsidy. (4+ / 0-)

      You can't (sadly) get all the much more rent for a moderately more energy efficient place, all other things being equal.


      Everyone knows that only witches stand up for accused witches!!

      by JesseCW on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:48:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Landlords don't get the benefits (8+ / 0-)

      The renters do.  

      As a landlord I know.

      What do I care if my tenant only pays $50 to heat his home in the winter?  So long as he pays the rent on time that is.

      But to him it makes a HUGE difference.

      I get NO benefit from it.  All my tenants who ever rent from me will though.

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:17:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Couple things ... (8+ / 0-)

        1.  Your tenant is more likely to be able to afford the rent.
        2.  The analyzed studies show that energy efficiency leads to lower turnover and higher equity value for an owned property. (I have stuff in my briefcase that I'm planning, eventually, to blog about that is pretty revealing on this.)
        3.  Even so, as per other comments I made, the 'system' disincentivizes any but the most altruistic landlord from taking action to improve an existing building's energy efficiency. There just isn't a noted / understood payoff unless you pay the utilities --

        Please note point #2 -- that is serious. Writ large, landlords do reap a benefit. It just isn't widely understood.

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:15:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  People are not encouraged (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, radical simplicity

          nor do they seem to be taught to seek the long view. Those benefits to the landlord would be long term. Even if the landlord were able to raise rents because heating/air conditioning costs were lowered, he would still have to fork out the dough up front for the improvements. And it would be some years before his profits would be up again. That's what the slum lord is all about--craven, rapacious profit-seeking in the now. Without subsidies it is all altruism. We live in the world of Ayn Rand, folks, and you know where altruism ranks there.

          I think it is up to local municipalities to create law forcing fuel efficiency--or at least rewarding it.

        •  The system punishes ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, A Siegel

          ... any by the most altruistic landlord.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 09:05:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Normally I'd agree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, A Siegel

          If you're talking about me personally then I absolutely agree with you on your points.  I'm a small fry landlord with only a few rental properties.  I have to find competitive edges, anything that distinguishes me from my competitors.  One thing I often get asked is what the average bills are like.  I'm fortunate in that my properties are in good locations but that's increasingly not enough.  

          One of my properties is a condo in a part of town where it is very convenient to the highway and NYC.  you can get to downtown NYC in an hour all highway travel.  It has a great view and I recently upgraded my HVAC so the bills are much lesss. I also replaced all the windows and doors within the last 10 years and I have CFL bulbs in all the fixtures.  The complex has retained most of it's value as a result of the location and the amenities like the pools (one is right outside my front door).  I have retained my tenants because of the low maintenance, lower bills and the views (It's got a view that's to die for off the rear deck).  Because of this I can charge higher rents.  But the type of people I rent to there will not be applying for LIHEAP any time soon.  Not when they're paying $1,250 a month for a 1 bedroom.  

          My other property is a different animal.  It's a 2 family near downtown in a area zoned for single family homes.  It's near the highway and shopping so it's very convenient but removed enough to be a bit more peaceful.  I have off street parking and a laundry room in the basement with separate washers/dryers.  The problem is the house is drafty as hell.  It's a 100 year old home that was gutted and rehabbed.  I've insulated teh attic and the basement.  I've insulated under crawl spaces, and the hot water pipes.  I'm even enclosing a rear porch to buffer the house from the cold as that part of the house gets real cold in the winter. I'll be doing the same in the front of the house where I plan on redoing a front porch to help buffer the front as well.  The house has a gas fired heating system that's 10 years old so it's pretty efficient.  I've had a harder time finding tenants who will rent and afford this one out, especially since there is so much available out there.  The plus I have is the location.  In this case it would totally make sense if I could offer say reduced heating and electricity bills.  Infact I've been looking into putting solar panels on the roof to reduce the electricity bills.  That way I could give tenants something extra like reduced electricity bills, contribute to a cleaner greener environment and maybe even charge a bit more in rent.  So if I got some incentives to do this I would ABSOLUTELY jump on it.  The only thing that is stopping me is the upfront costs.  My rear porch will cost me about $3,000 and I'm reusing the siding, doing most of the work myself along with friends and getting cheaper quality materials.  It's an enclosed porch so why put up the Taj Mahal if you know what I mean.  Although I am thinking of going with a better spray type of insulation just don't know what kind yet.  So while I will get some benefit from a better insulated and more efficient unit, the upfront costs prevent me from getting that benefit over the long run.  Incentives would eliminate that roadblock, FOR ME.

          The problem is the large scale landlords who view their rental properties as investments.  I'm in the real estate business so I deal with them all the time.  They're simply not going to make the investments to their properties.  These are the type of people who will get the cheapest materials one can find and employ the cheapest labor to do the work.  They do not care about turnover as much because they have lists of people looking to rent and they have their own management agents who collect rent and help quicken the turnovers so as to minimize losses.   Turnover for me means 2 months of rent lost at a minimum.  For them they have someone in there by the end of the week.

          The system has to be made to 'incentivize' them to make the improvements.  It can either be done with a carrot or a stick.  The problem with the carrot approach is that many still will not do it unless that carrot is too good to pass up.  The recent incentives by Obama were not bad.  I know one apartment complex that took advantage of it, had a team analyze the complex, insulated and winterized the place and it made a huge difference.  

          The other approach is using the stick.  I know in Portugal for example the gov't has used this approach more.  Homes there are now being built with insulation and are all wired and prepped for solar panels.  Prior to the new codes, homes were built with NO insulation.  They were all clay block construction and they get cold.  Some weren't even reinforced with rebar.  Now they have 2 layers of clay block with insulation inbetween.  HVAC and electrical is as sophisticated if not more so than here.  They put it in their codes.  We have codes here and while they have gotten tougher over time, they're still inadequate in many aspects.

          So if this were truly to work it would have to be a combination of the two.  Toughen codes and provide incentives for upgrades.  If money was invested in providing incentives to reduce heating costs by upgrading homes and the codes were toughened to make large scale landlords do it, the need for LIHEAP assistance would be minimized almost overnight.  


          This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

          by DisNoir36 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:10:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I would suggest that the ... (3+ / 0-)

      ... country gains the same benefit from a Connie Mae loan to landlords as from a Connie Mae loan to homeowners.

      Of course, we have not yet set up Connie Mae, despite Energy being priority number one back in early 2008.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 09:02:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Is LIHEAP some kind of stalking horse? (25+ / 0-)

    I don't have access to a good database, but I swear it seems like this program has often been the threatened sacrificial virgin in times of budget stress.

    I'm much more of a PR guy than a budget guy, but it seems to me that even the PR-challenged would realize that LIHEAP cuts evoke Dickensian images of shivering children and old folks with which you would never want to be associated.

    I'm left to wonder if this isn't some tactic aimed at rallying your base and at the same time putting team-Boehner on the side of just about the cruelest cut imaginable.

    Alternatively, if this is really how my guy feels we need to start restoring our fiscal house, I don't have words. (Well, I do, but for the moment, I'll choke them down.)

    On another note, thanks, Siegel, for bringing weatherizing into this discussion. It works on so many policy levels that it is the poster child for government's abject failure to act in a meaningful way on an intractable problem that isn't going away.

  •  can't wait to see how this gets spun. (13+ / 0-)

    now it'll be "not wanting grandma to freeze" is the new pony.

    hey, she'll have her democracy to keep her warm.

    a word of truth against an oppressive ruler is considered to be the best of Jihad...

    by stolen water on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 10:21:14 PM PST

    •  Echoes of 2004 (14+ / 0-)

      It does not take much to adapt President (then Senator) Obama's speech to today:  

      For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we’re all connected as one people.

      If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who -can’t read- shivers in the cold because his parents lost their jobs and can't afford to pay the utility bill, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.

      If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their -prescription drugs- heating bill, and has to choose between -medicine- heat and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.
      It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

      E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
      I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us.

      America! Tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do — if we do what we must do, then I have no doubts that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.

      On my own dime, I made hundreds of cd's with that whole speech on it (and others) and handed it out to volunteers working during the 2004 campaign - something to inspire them to come back to the phones and go back out to the doors the next day.

      And in that small way, it worked, back then.  Now, I wonder.

      What I've been forced to reconsider, forced by actions such as this Let Them Burn Cake proposal, is that the energy, urgency, passion and hopefullness I feel is different than what our President feels.  

      It is not his fault that we are where we are, but we believed he was our hope to fight against the direction of this country that he spoke against in 2004 and all through his campaign.  It is not his fault we are where we are, but where we are headed is his to lead.

      And if we cannot come together as a people, as a family, to keep our poor children and our elderly protected from the biting cold of these hard winter nights, then the promise of this country has dimmed yet again and our long political night is not nearly at an end.  

      If health care is not basic necessity, try living without it.

      by Into The Woods on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 11:39:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The new "shared sacrifice": (30+ / 0-)

    Poor people lose their heat in winter; rich people might not get as many tax deductions as they have been. Yeah, that's fair.

    "We Don't Pay Taxes. Only The Little People Pay Taxes." -- Leona Helmsley

    by MaizeandBlue on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 10:40:24 PM PST

  •  Obama fails again. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattman, MichaelNY

    He gotten damn good at failure!


    More and better Democrats MY ASS.

    "History is a tragedy, not a melodrama." - I.F.Stone

    by bigchin on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 11:29:15 PM PST

  •  When oil peaks once falls back for awhile (4+ / 0-)

    and then rises and approaches the previous peak it can then be regarded as nothing out of the ordinary.

    Its only of interest when a new record is set and makes the news.

    Sound reasonable? Only when you can get away with it

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:00:46 AM PST

    •  This hasn't exactly worked (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LaFeminista, radical simplicity

      with increasing temperatures though. Even when evidence is clear and records are broken, there seems to be rationale to explain it away. It's not just that it doesn't recur or isn't publicized. Now any one dumbell's opinion is as good as the best science on the planet. I think the oligarchy is waiting until they have the police state in order before they allow the price of gas to go up. At least they better be if they are wise because the heart of America is its car and when people can't indulge their solipsistic fantasies of freedom by getting in their cars and driving at will, there will be BIG trouble. I don't think granny dying in a cold apartment is gonna do it. She just should have planned her retirement better.

  •  what needs to happen (7+ / 0-)

    is a combination of sustained LIHEAP funding in the short term, and a CCC-grade weatherstripping and energy efficiency retrofitting drive in the short-to-medium term, to get people the hell off of oil-based heating.

    converting the east from heating oil to electric, and replacing wasteful AC units with energy star-grade units, would be a good start. but even if you're going to fix the long-range problem eventually, you can't let people freeze in their homes in the short term.

    •  Except for the switching the East to electric part (0+ / 0-)

      Most Eastern US electricity is coal fired. Installing a solar or geothermal pre-heat would be much more effective - especially in combination with solar PV, wind, or micro-hydro to run the pumps.

      •  both-and, not either-or (3+ / 0-)

        given oil's vulnerability to future supply shortages and current commodity price spikes, it's crucial that the region gets its ability not to freeze to death delinked from heating oil. that means electric, in terms of energy source.

        that being said, reducing the amount of electric needed is key, through solar water heating, and energy efficiency/weatherizing existing structures.

        and of course transitioning the east and south the heck off of coal ASAP also needs to be ongoing, especially given the regional vulnerability both to climate change-enhanced storms and sea rise.

  •  I ***hate*** the term shared sacrifice (17+ / 0-)

    It is dishonest to the hilt. What we have here is shifting sacrifice to those who are already hurting while giving more to those with much more than they need or deserve. Why the White House is buying into this, not to mention cutting up New Deal and Great Society programs, is beyond me.

    Peak Oil is not part of the White House discussion. Climate change is not part of their lexicon. It is bizarre. And the energy discussion is borderline psychotic because there is no recognition of the thing that ain't peaking - demand, particularly on the global level. The only good thing about peak oil is that we finally get carbon pricing, but in ways that drives home energy and food prices through the roof for people who cannot afford it.

    Yes, elected Republicans are batsh!t insane to a person. Unfortunately, the White House seems content to play politics and maneuver for talking points and compromise at a time we need leadership. Damn.

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:55:40 AM PST

    •  I hate the notion of "shared sacrifice" (9+ / 0-)

      too. And you know what else is making me agitated? The White House line that they're pushing now that they're making "hard choices" to cut "programs that they like."

      I don't care whether or not they like the programs. And yes, it is sure a hard choice to decide that some people are not going to be able to get help heating their houses in the bitter cold of winter. So don't do it! Don't make that choice.

      "The pie shall be cut in half and each man shall receive...death. I'll eat the pie." Homer as Solomon

      by Lost Left Coaster on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 07:34:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is how this White House works (4+ / 0-)

        they are always having to take actions because they are being held hostage.  Every time they come out with a plan that they know violates a plank of the party, they always blame it on others.  It is never their fault, never their choice,  President Obama is always a victim of the circumstances and never can control them.  I'm tired of the false excuses, and games.  If you want to cut heat assistance while providing tax cuts to the wealthy, own the consequences.  If you don't actually want a public option, own the consequences.  Stop pretending you are an innocent bystander when your hands are all over the cuts.

    •  I love the term shared sacrifice (4+ / 0-)

      I hate the way it is being misused.  There is no shared sacrifice going on, just us sacrificed to the altar of greed.

      "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."- J. Danforth Quayle

      by Sychotic1 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 08:50:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  absolutley! (0+ / 0-)

      Im new here and have yet to figure the system out.  If I could 'recommend' this post I would.

      Just an FYI - Im a low income renter and I get LIHEAP assistance.  It pays 10-15% of my electric bill for 5 summer months (May thru September).

      Republicans here in Texas managed to kill it once before and I guess it will get killed again.

      My income is only $8,000 a year.  I dont have much  discretionary spending.  I just do without some things
      so I can make sure I can pay my bills.

      deregulation has raised elctric prices here.  The only way to get really cheap rates is to go with a company with a poor track record of service.

      As far as 'weatherization' is concerned:  The powers that be are always looking to save money.  They hired people who either didnt care or didnt know how to do a good job and my apartment was left worse off than before the 'improvemnet' people came in.
      Thats what happens when 'penny wise and pound foolish' republicans are in charge.

      I guess the contractor made money.

  •  As an employee at DPW Li-Heap is for (6+ / 0-)

    low income people.  It pays a heating assistance of a max of 300 per year to a qualifying person or family and a following crisis payment if there is a shut off, but not all of it.  What's the purpose of this program if people will continue to need money every month to pay outstanding heating bills?  Why not save all that money and go green ASAP?  It's a drastic decision but we have to make the change now or else will be stuck on this path forever.  I never understood the assistance of its and bits instead of revamping the whole damn system which will eventually save billions.  Kind of like a woman or man who is abuse but doesn't know how to get out of the relationship.  That's what the Human Services dept is when there are permanent solutions and better options available to end this madness.  Don't get me wrong HS helps but the purpose is to end assitance not continue forever.  Who's to blame?  Your senate and house and no one is protesting in the streets!  I forgot this is not Egypt.

    What's the best way to protect yourself during winter?  Get an apt with heating included and there are many available.  I personally don't have heating included in my latest apt but my rent is pretty low.  And if I could buy a portable heating solar system I would in a heart beat.  One day it will come.

    Do people need to feel the cold to wake them up?  YES!

    Who do they get mad at when their bills are high?  Not the legislators they put in office to vote against their own best interests.  Nope!  That's right it's the Dept of Welfare demanding they get "their" money asap!  

    I would rather have solar energy than to get Li-Heap once or twice (only shut off status) a year, and so would they but they won't know that until they have the option of low cost solar energy.  

    Where are the solar paneling business?  I would think they would be sprouting by the dozens on every township.

    End Li-Heap, end transportation vouchers for all federal employees (they drive to work anyways and give their voucher moneies to family members) and end a host of other useless funding and get to work on solar energy.

    Where are the protesters?  

    •  You can do both (7+ / 0-)

      as I mentioned above.  Cut the oil subsidies and use that to not only fund LIHEAP in the short run but to weatherize and modernize the homes where those people live.  

      That way you eliminate the need for LIHEAP assistance by those people, reduce consumption and save money in the long run.

      The reality is, and you kind of hit the nail, LIHEAP is just another subsidy to oil and gas companies.  Alot of those homes where these people live are sieves where heat is flowing out of the homes through all over.  The more you spend to heat them the more heat escapes.  You solve that problem and you reduce the need to heat that home so much.  You reduce the demand on oil and gas and you reduce the amount of assistance needed.   Not to mention all the added benefits derived.

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:30:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Couple things ... (6+ / 0-)

      1.  As per my end comment, I see value to transitioning off / down LIHEAP.  Let's 'teach to fish' ...

      2.  If "federal employees" are giving voucher money to family members, that is fraud and open to prosecution. Living in the DC area, let me tell you that this is not mainly my perception. I know a lot (LOT) of federal employees on public transit and private employees using the tax-free support for metro. (If we end transit subsidies, we need to end all parking subsidies as well -- including tax free providing of parking to workers.  Want to hear screams?  And, of course, this is 'regressive' -- compare the Corporate VP to the secretary in terms of ability to pay for that parking downtown DC.)

      3.  Try searching -- it is pretty easy to make a window solar heating panel that you can use in most south-facing windows. (Need to have a slide-down window to 'hold it in place'.) A not hard project that will noticeably contribute to warming (mainly a room) on any day with some decent sun.  (Check 'gmoke' on Dkos -- he has likely done diaries on this and, if not, send him a note and he'll help you find one.)

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:47:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They are, escpecially at (0+ / 0-)

        social security offices in philadelphia, because I worked there and have written to legislators about it.   I do recall a social security office in DC getting caught years ago.   Point is no Federal employee needs a monthly bus pass to get by on their salary.  If the average low income person can barely make it so can they with an income 3 times higher.  It's a perk that needs to be removed.

        As for window solar heating I would assume renters won't invest.  All we could hope for is that property owners do, but if the heating is not included in their contract I doubt they would.  It's still a great idea and I will pass that on to my brother.  Thanks for the info.

        •  RE your experience ... (0+ / 0-)

          1.  Again, that is fraud.  And, I would suggest that your experience is not 'the norm' and that the vast majority of people do this correctly.

          2.  The point of the transit passes is that this is in exchange for not providing parking.  Someone receiving a transit pass should not be receiving parking and should have to pay if they drive to work.  This is not, per se, "perk" ... and, honestly, it is something that I would prefer to see pushed into far more employers rather than cutting it down. Getting people onto transit, rather than private vehicles, has many benefits -- and, if you can reduce parking spots, leads to monetary savings for the employer.

          3. I am sorry, I don't agree with the 'federal employees' are overpaid thematic of "no Federal employee needs ..."

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:10:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  it doesn't matter they can afford the bus (0+ / 0-)

            fare with the salary they get.  It's not just my experience i know it happens in various places, but not all.  I know it's fraud waste and abuse.... but I still say they make enough money to leave the car home and pay for their own bus fare.

    •  Solar funding is also being cut. (6+ / 0-)

      Solar Energy Industries Association sent me an email today saying funds in "HR 1" cut funding for solar energy. A snip:

          More information:

            * Loan guarantee programs serve a critical market function by enabling new technologies to move from the prototype stage to commercial deployment.
              It would be a huge breach of trust and faith for Congress to eliminate this program as the projects are nearing finalization of terms and financial closing. Many have invested significant time and money during the lengthy approval process. ....

      The group has a brief petition you can sign here.

      •  Make the loans yourself. (0+ / 0-)

        If they're "close to closing", get copies of their application and all supporting documents.  There's no reason this money has to be Federal.  The opportunity has been identified.

        -7.75 -4.67

        "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 08:09:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why did it look that way? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, cybrestrike, mkor7
    It wasn't likely that bloggers would be happy with the conversation, since once we got into the details of arguing different cuts, it looked as though we were buying into the White House frame that the cuts were urgently needed in the first place, and most of us don't believe that's true.

     So why do you let yourselves get used?  Access issues?   You must have had some inkling of the conversation to come.  Why weren't any of you prepared?   Instead of letting them "tell you", why weren't you prepared to "tell them".   It isn't as if the cuts to home heating, Social Security and a whole host of other programs for poor and middle class people were any secret.  After these events, all I hear is how "we didn't get to __" .  

    If I am jumping to the wrong conclusions, please, clue  me in.   Why do you bloggers continually allow yourselves to be used?  The first time was when Clinton invited a group of you to his place in Harlem for lunch.   It became readily apparent that he looked you all over and dismissed you as a bunch as toothless DFHs.  

    The inability of the leadership of the left to get organized or make an impact is why I've given up.   No more cash, no more petitions, no more emails, and no more symbolic and empty votes for the unRepublican on the ticket.   Howard Dean brought me back into the process in 04, and  my interest or ability to care about our phony democracy is rapidly dwindling.  


    If you don't stand for something, eventually, you stand for nothing.

    by dkmich on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:01:48 AM PST

    •  Actually ... (5+ / 0-)

      Listen to the teleconference.  I think that there were serious and even probing questions. I don't think that this was a cheerleading session ... even if I don't disagree with that 'feeling'.

      I didn't get to ask a question. (If you listen, the operator says that all the questions were taken, in essence -- obviously somehow my *1 didn't get noticed.)  

      Honestly, listen to the questions / teleconference and let me know if you think that the questions were not more probing / pushing on issues that matter than what you get from the press pool.

      I do believe, writ large, that the questions were prepared and of decent quality.  

      FYI -- while I had four different questions that I was considering, I think that I would have used this one:

      If, in the 21st century, energy challenges (such as Peak Oil) and environmental challenges (like Global Warming) represent viable existential threats to the nation, then shouldn't these be considered as core national security issues? And, if these are national security issues, why should Department of Energy (and other programs, such as rail programs) programs designed to address Peak Oil and create clean-energy programs face an artificial freeze to spending that we simply aren't seeing in the Department of Defense?  Quite simply, we need to ask what is the best path to assure national security and are there questions as to whether spending $10s of billions to develop a new manned bomber do more to secure American national security than investing these same resources to cut our oil usage.  How does the budget reflect this?

      I won't claim that I have the best ability to think through questions ... but would that have been so bad?

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:38:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And, ... why look that way ... (4+ / 0-)

      Because there were opening statements that took up much of the call and the bloggers might get a question (maybe with follow-up) and they were seeking to pursue / raise a specific issue.  Those specifics were reasonable / valuable / etc even as they did not go back and challenge some of the core assumptions of the opening statement(s). (For example, I was discomfited by the 'credit card' and other references which make deficit reduction a higher priority than investing in establishing a sound structure for a prosperous and sustainable future.)

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:49:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd rather have a wood burning stove (14+ / 0-)

    than get yet more money from LIHeap but the cost of installing one is too high for me to manage.  I can manage the price of the used stove but I can't manage the chimney and hearth and labor costs. A tax deduction does me not a bit of good as living on SS disability precludes my having enough money to pay any taxes -- unless they can make the town reduce my property taxes which I can't see happening.

    If Obama's energy policy doesn't want to subsidize fossil fuels, making major subsidies available for installing renewable energy would work instead just fine, with  income adjusted subsidy levels so that it isn't only the poor who can afford such systems. Switching to wood, personal solar, geothermal and wind would do more than just help the poor.  It would help the world climate and also the US balance of trade.

    Cutting off all funding and sources of heat in this very hard winter is scary unless some other way to keep warm is found.  This year, the cost of propane for my home was the highest it has ever been so the concept that prices peaked in 2008 and have now fallen is crazy.  We, especially those in the frigid parts of the US, need help to keep from freezing one way or the other.  People have value even when they don't have money.

  •  With Two Conservative Parties (7+ / 0-)

    the rational course is not going to be on the table any time soon.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:25:15 AM PST

  •  The Village will never acknowlege (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, radical simplicity

    peak oil, because it means what we've been doing for both domestic and foreign policy for the last twenty years is looney tunes.  This generation of politicians and the corporations that fund them cannot conceive of such a thing.

    Besides, our current political setup of batshit Republicans and centrist Democrats aiming to be just somewhat  to the left of batshit  means no solutions that don't immediately funnel money to the wealthy will ever be tried.

  •  Just a symbol (0+ / 0-)

    Obama knows that the Democratic lawmakers will restore the cuts. Republicans may as well.
    It is just political posturing.

    Apparenly I'm a sanctimonious purist!

    by mattinjersey on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:20:13 AM PST

  •  The NYT asks ... (3+ / 0-)
    ... Why would the left be so accepting of the president’s budget?

    I have a partial explanation not mentioned in the NYT analysis:

    Some of us have lowered our expectations of this administration to a point where it's not worth arguing with them as they suck up to their new Rulers of America in the House.

    See you next year, fellas. Don't get cocky. Enthusiasm wins elections while apathy's a killer.

    Side question: Does the new House majority consider itself some sort of super-executive now? Appears so. How long will Obama put up with this before pushing back on the very idea of it?

  •  Now they're FRACKING for oil! (5+ / 0-)

    They're willing to poison our water, via the Halliburton exemption to the Clean Water Act. Aaargh!

    Companies are investing billions of dollars to get at oil deposits scattered across North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and California. By 2015, oil executives and analysts say, the new fields could yield as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day ....

    (blah, blah reduce oil imports, energy security)

    They drill down and horizontally into the rock, then pump water, sand and chemicals into the hole to crack the shale and allow gas to flow up. ...

    Because oil molecules are sticky and larger than gas molecules, engineers thought the process wouldn't work to squeeze oil out fast enough to make it economical. But drillers learned how to increase the number of cracks in the rock and use different chemicals to free up oil at low cost. ....

    The fields are attracting billions of dollars of investment from foreign oil giants like Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Norway's Statoil, and also from the smaller U.S. drillers who developed the new techniques like Chesapeake, EOG Resources and Occidental Petroleum.

    profit margins from producing oil from shale are much higher than for gas.

  •  How can they sleep at night ? (7+ / 0-)

    First they approve tax cuts for the wealthy.  Then to deal with the deficit such tax cuts contribute to, they cut heating for the poor.  Shame on you Mr. Obama. You blew it big time when you caved to your republican pals on the tax cuts.  You also lost my vote in the future for that one.

    •  Couldn't agree more. This is the e-mail I just (6+ / 0-)

      sent to the Whitehouse:

      Before I even get started on my point, I have to say I find it rather interesting that "Budget" is not even in your list of topics here!  Not looking for comment on that, huh? I can't imagine why...

      I hope you pull this message and let President Obama sleep on this one:  You have succeeded in not only losing the strong support of a previously most ardent supporter, you have pushed so hard that I doubt at this point (unless things change dramatically), that I would vote for President Obama as the lesser of two evils in 2012.

      I unsubscribed from and OFA when tax cuts were given to millionaires and billionaires.  I held on through Guantanomo still being open, through killing the public option, through foot dragging on immigration, concessions to wall street on reform and consumer protections and through many other disappointments but, as I said previously in this space, caving on those tax cuts after I listened personally to speech after speech on the campaign trail saying how then candidate Obama would repeal them, well, that was it for me.

      Or so I thought - didn't think you could push me further away.  But you have.  

      The proposed cuts to LIHEAP and to the Community Development Block Grant (Community Action Programs too) are DISGUSTING in and of themselves.  On the heels of tax cuts for the wealthy, in the face of rising oil prices promising billions in profits, in the face of the continued excessive bonuses being paid on wall street all while so many remain jobless, homeless (or losing their homes), hungry and cold - that is beyond disgusting.

      Please don't bother responding - I really couldn't care less to hear anything more from this administration, especially some BS trying to justify these actions.

      "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

      by MRA NY on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 08:13:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How can they sleep at night ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MRA NY, radical simplicity

    First they approve tax cuts for the wealthy.  Then to deal with the deficit such tax cuts contribute to, they cut heating for the poor.  Shame on you Mr. Obama. You blew it big time when you caved to your republican pals on the tax cuts.  You also lost my vote in the future for that one.

  •  The usually conservative Portland Press Herald... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, A Siegel, m00finsan

    ... featured a mostly reasonable op-ed yesterday, regarding the cuts to LIHEAP. It certainly speaks to the "give a man a fish" mentality that you raised in your diary:

    Corporate Dog

    We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

    by Corporate Dog on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 07:12:49 AM PST

  •  Did Susie Madrak ask about dating again? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm fascinated to know whether she discussed the topics of bleachers with WH aides. Why Plouffe wants to waste time with this bunch, I cannot guess.

    •  Huh??? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Okay, having ignorance about the dating reference, I thought that (with the exception of the young kids playing on the phone during one blogger's question) this was a pretty solid set of questions and discussion.

      Why "Plouffe wants to waste time", perhaps because the blogs speak to so many impassioned Democratic-Party leaning people and, well, there are many in the traditional media who get their cue (plagiarize ...) from bloggers.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 08:49:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  they never ask about what I care about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel
        •  Forgot that was Susie ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Honestly, I think that was a powerful question / issue / challenge that was both merited and valuable to express.

          Also, as per Chris Bowers' front page post, there were good questions in the session.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 11:05:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  to me it was an embarrassing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radical simplicity

            affirmation of the self-centered and childish nature of the netroots - as well as being an endorsement of a grotesquely sexist cliche.

            Aside from the final question on nuclear, there was not a single question that could not have been predicted before the proposal was published.

            Questions that could have been asked

            How much is directly and indirectly due to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is that a sustainable expense?

            what's the mortgage deduction limit about?

            How hard will WH push for ending subsidies of oil companies?

            Why should the tax credit for foreign taxes be preserved?

            What's going to be done about right people tax avoidance and isn't putting the UBS whistle blower in jail sending the wrong message?


  •  It's nice that the WH had the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, m00finsan

    meeting.  They need to do more than have meetings.

    Is President Obama the Wall Street president or is he the Alternative Energy president?

    He's still the Wall Street president.  The meeting didn't change much.

  •  Did Susie Madrak ask about bleachers? (0+ / 0-)

    Really remarkable that the WH is clueless enough to waste time with this group.

  •  shared sacrifice? SHARED SACRIFICE?!?!?! (11+ / 0-)

    where is the tax surcharge for the wealthy?  The 0.25% transaction fee for speculative securities purchases?  The tax on wealth?

    The words "tax" or "revenue" have become anathema to any discussion of balancing the budget.  I don't get it ... unless of course, Mr. Obama has no interest in using the revenue side to balance the budget at all.  I know he's said he didn't like extending the Bush tax cuts for those in the top income brackets, but where is the discussion he promised once they were extended?  Not a PEEP from them, at least so far, from what I had heard.


  •  LIHEAP, Shared sacrifice and my new furnace. (4+ / 0-)

    Late last year my furnace gave out.  It was kind of old so I decided to replace it.  I was delighted to find that the purchase of a new high efficiency furnace would make me eligible for a $1500 tax credit.  I would have bought the furnace without the credit, but the $1500 was a nice bonus.   To add to that, since my new furnace was installed, my heating bills have dropped by two thirds.

    Now I find, in the name of "shared sacrifice", Obama plans to cut heating aid to the poorest Americans.  $1500 is no small amount of money to me,  but I don't know if I can, in good conscience, accept the credit knowing others will suffer through a cold winter.

    •  For me ... (4+ / 0-)

      when we have the $400 Bush rebates a decade ago, I felt something similar.  I sent the money to a Food Bank with a note stating that, while I wouldn't mind having extra money in the bank, I couldn't take it in good conscience while there were people who couldn't put food on the table and were facing cuts in their assistance.  Can't believe that President Obama has put a budget / game in place that makes you (us) want to do something similar.  And, well, the Obama budget is far more friendly to the poor than what we should expect from the Teahadist fundamentalists in change in the House.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 09:51:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a good idea. (3+ / 0-)

        perhaps my local utility's heating assistance program

        •  Personally ... (6+ / 0-)

          My version might be to 'fund' some energy efficiency in a low-income community.  Perhaps offer to pay for the supplies for a 'energy efficiency barnraising' event for a few homes (caulking, some insulation, etc ...).

          Obviously, it is your thought.

          I, honestly, haven't loved (despite this diary but words are there) any heating assistance program that isn't wedded to energy efficiency. The local utility's heating assistance program -- at least in my case (and, I believe, in most others) -- simply provides them revenue stream. If they were to say, for example, that they would discount by 10% any bills paid for through the heating assistance program, that might be showing a 'shared pain/sacrifice' approach. Instead, these donations aren't made to a tax deductible path and pay bills at retail rates -- e.g, with built-in profit for this Corporation.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 10:49:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Letters from Vermonters (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, A Siegel, Picot verde

    Bernie Sanders just released a  PDF booklet  of letters he has received from struggling Vermonters. These, and those in similar circumstances in other states, are the people who will be destroyed by the proposed cuts.

  •  If oil prices are going to remain high... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    ...LIHEAP should probably be cut.  There's no point sand-bagging against the inevitable.  If anything, we should spend the money either on housing efficiency improvements or some kind of public housing to relocate those unable to pay their heating bills.

  •  On energy efficiency (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, A Siegel

    At least in Missouri, the EE programs have been underutilized.  I'm not sure the exact reasons; perhaps not enough ads or people don't own their homes.  

    Right now the sheer number of homes out there that would not considered to be livable in the modern sense are providing a refuge to our poorest citizens.  These substandard homes are often either older stick built homes or, as is so often the case in Missouri, dilapidated trailers.  Some of these have been so bad that federally funded EE programs cannot justify the expenditure, yet we still allow people to live in these (and someone is collecting rent on them as well.)  

    Last year there was a national story of a lady who received a billion dollar electric bill for her trailer.  While that was obviously wrong, her prior month's bill, as shown in the local (FL) TV report, was around $400.  And she had to title loan her car to pay for that one!

    I don't necessarily mind cutting these funds, as long as it is offset with some sort of regulatory tool to rid us of the worst 1% of the housing stock or another program to directly take on the EE of residential dwellings.  Perhaps federally funded EE must update a unit before it qualifies to be section 8 subsidized, or something along those lines.  

    •  I can't speak to Missouri (4+ / 0-)

      But in MA, the programs are financed with [some low percentage rate] loans through the banks. But the banks simply aren't lending.

      We tried to help my Dad get a loan, and despite a very clear and reliable monthly income from his IRA and Social Security, they would not lend him a penny to weatherize his house and replace his failing furnace, which would result in lower monthly expenses exceeding the monthly loan payments. However, they were very happy to offer (persistently) to "allow" him switch an existing 3% fixed-rate loan he had taken for the roof to an adjustable-rate interest-only 6% loan.

      The entire banking system in this country is one big boondoggle of predatory corruption and waste.

  •  I think the WH believes--or pretends to believe (3+ / 0-)

    whatever suits its near-term political goals. Not that an administration can ever take its eyes off of political realities, of course. But this administration's approach to protecting its flank and rear is not the only possible one, nor the best let alone most principled one. So the "they have no choice" defense is complete and utter bullshit. There are other ways to secure its political power and future that are not as unprincipled and cowardly--not to mention not as POLITICALLY stupid. As is so often the case, they get this totally wrong.

    For such a supposedly "smart" man, Obama can be quite the idiot.

    "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

    by kovie on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 10:51:43 AM PST

  •  How do people with kids (3+ / 0-)

    sleep at night? The fact that a Democratic administration can govern like the future isn't going to be a time of great hardship and harm when every indicator is alarming is terrifying to me. If I had a child and I knew what I know I cannot imagine how I would prepare. Teach your child how to grow food, how to live lean, and how to repair off grid energy sources. Get in with a community that is diverse, intelligent, and on it's way to being self sufficient. If a Democratic president won't confront our future honestly it's up to you and yours to make a future that you want your kids to live in. The generations coming will never forgive us if we don't at least try to set in place systems which can make coping /surviving even feasible.

    Remove BP's corporate charter for environmental terrorism.

    by Picot verde on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 11:35:19 AM PST

  •  HEAP pays utility companies (0+ / 0-)

    It does nothing to lower the cost of services to poor customers, just helps them pay the high energy bills by putting them on a payment plan.  

    In reality, the government is just paying the gas and electric company's high rates.

    The utility companies should take up the slack by offering free services to the poor just as the pharmaceutical companies offer free drugs to the poor.

    Just saying, maybe if the government stops paying these bills, rates will go down.

    •  Free isn't good ... (0+ / 0-)

      either ...

      And, yes, commented elsewhere about this very point ... in terms of why I don't donate to utility payment funds. They are using those contributions to pay themselves a rate than has 100% of their profits embedded in it.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 04:17:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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