On Monday, February 13, President Barack Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013. While ordinarily I wouldn't have much to say about a political issue, what's interesting about this version of the bill is its calls for cuts in a program that it seems most politicians can agree on in these divisive times – the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Reports say that while the president asked for $3 billion in assistance – an increase from what he called for in 2011, the sum would decrease the federal assistance provided to eligible Americans. Congress approved $3.47 billion in federal aid for LIHEAP for the fiscal year 2012 budget.
Since home heating goes well beyond partisan lines, the president's proposal heralded criticism from both aisles, particularly from lawmakers in northern states where consumers are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of their heating bills.
"I am deeply disappointed that President Obama has once again failed to show support for the thousands of Massachusetts families and seniors who depend on LIHEAP funding to pay their heating bills each winter," Republican Senator Scott Brown told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette in a statement following the budget's release.
However, the last word will come from Congress, so the final version of the bill could include more assistance. But, for those who aren't eligible for these programs, the best recourse you have is to pursue low-cost home heating solutions – such as electric heaters, humidifiers and new manual thermostats – that can help increase the effectiveness of your existing home heating and quickly lower your overall costs.