While there seems to be plenty in the president's budget to excite everyone (in one way or another), here's something that appears to be flying under the radar -- a 30% cut in funding to help low-income families with their energy bills.
This will be quick and a hit-and-run out of necessity (at least for now). All the data comes from www.liheap.org and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program reached its peak of $5.1 billion in 2009 and 2010 as the number of people in poverty exploded at the height of the Great Recession. The national poverty rate jumped from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 15.1 percent in 2010, as nearly 9 million Americans slid from the middle class into poverty.
But while the poverty rate remained virtually unchanged in 2011, LIHEAP was pared back to $4.7 billion. The president's budget request of less than $3.5 billion for 2013 represents a 30 percent cut in peak LIHEAP funding, while a record number of Americans remain in poverty.
This proposed reduction in funding comes at a time when more than half of U.S. households now devote more than 20 percent of their family budget to energy costs, nearly double what it was just 10 years ago. And household expenditures for heating oil and natural gas are expected to increase 15 to 20 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information and Administration short-term outlook.
Roughly 40 percent of LIHEAP recipients are senior citizens, and 20 percent are veterans.
Mix this in with the president's proposed cuts to Social Security, and what do you get?