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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Least of these"

Criticism of Obama's budget from the Left has correctly focused on the cut of heating bill aid. I heard parts of the president's news conference today while heading to and from Costco and I he was asked by an eloquent reporter who framed her question on, as she put it, the "least of these". I thought the president explained the cut well and put it in a context that I think makes it more defensible. Here is his answer:

“On the …home heating assistance program, we doubled the home heating assistance program when I first came into office in part because there was a huge energy spike, and so folks, if we just kept it at the same level, folks would have been in real trouble. Energy prices have now gone down but the cost of the program has stayed the same. So what we've said is let's go back to a more sustainable level. If it turns out that, once again, you see a huge energy spike, then we can revisit it, but let's not just assume because it's at a $5 billion level that each year we're going to sustain it at a $5 billion level regardless of what's happening on the energy front. Now, that doesn't mean that, you know, these aren't still tough cuts. Because they're always more people who could use some help across the country than we have resources. And so it's still a tough decision, and I understand people's frustrations with some of these decisions. Having said that, my goal is to make sure that we're looking after the vulnerable, we're looking after the disabled, we're looking after our seniors, we're making sure that our education system is serving our kids so that they can compete in the 21st century, we're investing in the future. And doing that in a way that's sustainable and that we're paying for.”

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