Wednesday, November 23, 2005

USA: Charity case

This is how bad it is for the poor under Bush: Poor Americans have gone from being treated like second-class citizens by their own government to being treated like third-world charity cases by a foreign government.

Thousands of low-income Massachusetts residents will receive discounted home heating oil this winter under an agreement signed Tuesday with Venezuela, whose government is a political adversary of the Bush administration.

A subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company will supply oil at 40 percent below market prices. It will be distributed by two nonprofit organizations,
Citizens Energy Corp. and the Mass Energy Consumer Alliance.

The agreement gives President Hugo Chavez's government standing as a provider of heating assistance to poor U.S. residents at a time when U.S. oil companies have
been reluctant to do so and Congress has failed to expand aid in response to rising oil prices.

U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., met with Chavez in August and helped broker the deal. He said his constituents' needs for heating assistance trump any
political points the Chavez administration can score.

Citgo is the Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company and has about 13,500 independently owned U.S. gas stations. It is offering
Massachusetts more than 12 million gallons of discounted heating oil over the next four months, starting in December.

Chavez proposed offering fuel directly to poor U.S. communities during a visit to Cuba in August. He has said the aim is to bypass middlemen to reduce costs
for the American poor -- a group he argues has been severely neglected by Bush's government.
For its part, the Bush administration has threatened to veto a tax bill if a provision that would raise taxes for oil companies isn't stripped out. This threat comes after the major oil companies raked in profits so obscenely large during the last three months that Congress hauled in five oil company CEOs for hearings -- and were promptly lied to by the CEOs.

The five companies -- Exxon Mobil Corp.,Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. -- reported combined quarterly profits of $32.8 billion. That's $356 million per day for the 92-day financial quarter.

Poor Americans have been reduced to relying on the goodwill of the president of Venezuela while our own president does nothing to ensure they will have access to heating oil this winter.

How incredibly fucked up is that?

Argue all you want that Chavez, a vocal critic of the Bush administration, is only doing this to undermine domestic support for a political enemy. But, in addition to asking "What domestic support? Bush and Cheney can't show their faces anywhere but in front of troops and conservative think tanks," I would ask again:

Poor Americans have been reduced to relying on the goodwill of the president of Venezuela while our own president does nothing to ensure they will have access to heating oil this winter.

How incredibly fucked up is that?

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