Trump once again wants to cut energy assistance to the poor


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Trump administration is once again calling for the complete elimination of a heating assistance program that helps to keep the homes of low-income families warm. And once again, program supporters are vowing to fight it.

The administration is using the same arguments from a year ago when it tried to abolish the program, saying it’s rife with fraud and that no one would be left freezing if the program goes away.

“These arguments are very misleading and wrong,” said Mark Wolfe, director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association in Washington, D.C.

The program, known as LIHEAP — Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — helps families pay their heating bills primarily in the form of a grant that’s sent directly to utility companies or heating fuel vendors.


President Donald Trump tried to eradicate the program last year, but encountered resistance in Congress. In October, he released nearly $3 billion, or roughly 90 percent, of the funding.

Critics say that money won’t go as far as in past years because of rising prices.

Nonetheless program supporters say LIHEAP is a lifeline for the elderly, disabled and others on fixed incomes.

“If the president turned around and did away with that funding, I have no idea how we’d survive in the winter,” said Dwayne LaBrecque, a diabetic who is on disability after losing several toes and part of his foot to infection.

LaBrecque’s income plummeted when he lost his job as a shipping manager, leaving him to cobble together an existence for himself, his fiancee and their five children in the rural Maine town of Hartford. The family received about $1,000 in heating assistance this winter, and that money is already gone.

The Trump supporter said he hopes the president has a change of heart. He said he won’t be voting for Trump again if he succeeds in killing off the program.

The president’s 2019 budget was released Monday and would cut other social programs like federal housing assistance and the food stamp program, in addition to eliminating heating aid.

Like last year, the proposal faces an uphill fight in Congress.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, told the White House budget director that that the Trump administration is creating “a situation where people will go cold, some may freeze to death.”

LIHEAP is popular in both cold weather and warm weather states, like Florida and Arizona, where it also distributes money to keep people keep cool in the summer. All told, the program helps 6 million households.

A group of 45 senators asked the president to maintain energy assistance and weatherization assistance programs.

A dangerous stretch of cold weather around the New Year underscored the need for the program, said Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine. And Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire called gutting the program “dangerous and unacceptable.”

Republican Sen. John Hoeven, of North Dakota, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said he’ll fight for the program that provides “vital resources” to help those in need keep their homes safe and warm and “to make ends meet.”

President Donald Trump speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, during a meeting with state and local officials about infrastructure. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
  • FrankE

    This is what happens when you allow a BS artist to make decisions. This guy is more than out of touch, his sense of reality is nonexistent. He doesn’t understand it because he doesn’t know anything about it. He’s to stupid to see the logic in such a plan so trying to compromise with him would prove fruitless. Republicans are bad enough, all they want is more money in their pocket, a majority of people who feel this way are fairly wealthy anyway. I’m sure many of them have never worried about running out of heating oil or having the electricity shut off. So how are we to let these same individuals make these important decisions?
    The only bright side I can see in all of this is the midterms. We’ll have the opportunity to vote Republicans out to the gutter where they belong. I just worry about the feeble minded folks who believe the garbage coming fourth from conservatives twisted minds. Look where it’s gotten us?
    I’m sorry but conservative policy doesn’t cut it anymore. We need common sense and logical thinking. Neither of which ever came from a Republican………..

    • mainer18

      maybe all the senseless republicans should quit there jobs and we can all ride the welfare/disability train….i wonder how long it would take for the us to go broke

      • FrankE

        I’ll never go broke. They keep sending me a check every month. Actually two checks every month……….

        • mainer18

          and everyone says trumps a bs artist like many on disability and your right once on the train your all set if you play the game right

          • FrankE

            I’m just curious, what gives you the impression that disability is any gravy train. When I became disabled I lost over a hundred grand per year in income. Technically I am still employed, if I was able, I could go back to work anytime. If you think being in pain all the time with no real income is nirvana, you my friend are more disabled than I am………….

          • mainer18

            your right your all right im the only one messed up in the head well me trump and lepage lets just keep giving, give to the poor give to the disabled give to the refugees give give give

          • FrankE

            I think your getting it……………….

        • mainer18

          i just recently bought a piece of land off a neighbor as him his wife and daughter are all disabled do you see the trend its an epidemic we need to stop

          • FrankE

            Do you realize how ignorant you sound? Disability isn’t a form of welfare it’s a physical or medical condition. no truly disabled person is faking it, as no one in their right mind would settle to live on the few pennies one receives from SSDI.
            It’s obvious that you have some deep seated grudge against people on disability. I don’t believe your claims of false benefits regarding just about everyone you know. Just realize how incredibly stupid you sound calling the disabled cheaters. Also, keep in mind that next week you could find yourself needing disability benefits. You rarely see it coming, and when it hits, it hits hard. So I’d reconsider your false accusations if I were you, it could be you your describing next……………….

          • mainer18

            so lets start over as a state in general we need to have a committee watching the people we are giving money to from people that work….i believe there are many people abusing the system… example i had a couple come buy a clutch for a snowmobile that just got back from a week long trip in the county both disabled with supposed back problems lol the guy down the road with back problems that cuts splits stacks and loads his truck with wood all day …so again we pay vigilantes and arm them with video cameras and set them loose ….and see how many scared people there really are playing the system…are you scared frank e

          • FrankE

            We don’t need a committee, all we need is to follow you around. Seems everyone you conduct any business with is a fraudster. I would suggest that you be awful careful as to who you try accusing of cheating the system. Accuse the wrong person and you will be in a world of legal hurt. You obviously have a thing for anyone you think might be cheating the system, but your probably wrong most of the time. This my friend could come back to bight you in the backside……………

  • Joe from Monroe

    Donald Trump has no sympathy or empathy for the poor because he’s never had to endure hard times.

    • Midnight Tree Bandit

      I am reminded by my New York friends that it has been well known since the 80s that Trump was all bluster and con, and a terrible businessman. One, who worked for a Russian language newspaper in the 80s said she and her colleagues had a great big laugh when a known Russian gangster put one over on him back then, (“A Loss for Trump Is a Win For Russian Immigrants”).

      Trump’s only “success” is fooling enough people into thinking he’s rich so that he has managed to get rich by renting out his name. Burt not nearly as rich as he wants people to believe. He was in debt to his ears until the success of The Apprentice re-established the illusion that he was a successful businessman. There is a long string of failed development deals through the 70s, 80s, and 90s that required his father to bail him out or co-sign on loans because banks would no longer give him money. His Atlantic City casinos failed precisely because he was directly involved in managing it. When the bank bailed him out on that, they did so only on the condition that he have nothing to do with it. (His father bought $3.5 million in chips that he never planned to use as an illegal loan in order to help Don pay debts. He was fines $30,000 and the casino failed anyway.)

      • Joe from Monroe

        So at one point he did collude with the Ruskies.

        • Midnight Tree Bandit

          It was a small time crook who swindled him on some minor deal.

  • CruiserSailor

    All you Second District voters, don’t forget Poliquin is one of Trump’s rubber stamps and if Trump wants the poor people of Northern Maine to freeze to death, Poliquin will too.

  • alibaba

    Why would a man dependent upon taxpayer supported by life-saving (for him) medical care and taxpayer supported home heat be a Trump voter? I don’t begrudge the assistance he receives but something’s not right there.

  • mainer18

    trump needs to cut more than just the heat assistance im sure people wont freeze to death but let me guess they mite have to cut back on the spa treatments and movies if we cut back on everything we wont be so appealing to the free loaders

    • FrankE

      Man, someone is sure angry at the world. Please leave my spa treatments out of this, I need them to fill all that free time I have by not working.

    • Midnight Tree Bandit

      How fortunate you are that you are healthy and wealthy and will never, ever have to be concerned about being able to heat your home or get your next meal. How nice for you that you never ever will have to leave your little bubble of privilege and experience what 99% of us call “the real world.”

      You may think you have set yourself up to be safe for life. Trust me, no one is.