The Energy Department wants to eliminate a $144 million program to help poor people weatherize their homes. So Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.) asked Energy Secretary James B. Edwards at an Energy Committee hearing if that is really good policy, considering that Congress keeps increasing subsidy payments to low-income people to help them pay heating bills in poorly insulated homes. (An emergency appropriation of $123 million passed the House Feb. 9).

Edwards: Senator, there are all sorts of ways of conserving. I imagine they [the poor] conserve the same way everyone else does.

Heinz: How is that?

Edwards: I quit heating my entire house . . . . We have gone out and weatherized the house. They need to weatherize theirs and maybe if they can't afford it, HHS, HUD can help them do that. Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development are the proper places for such programs under administration proposals.

Heinz cited the case of an old woman found wrapped in electric blanket in an unheated home, then started to tell another similar story.

Edwards interrupted. "You can't pick out two instances like that and set national policy," he said. " . . . I don't believe you can tell me about hard times, I understand them . . . "