At a time when the president and Congress can hardly agree on anything, it is particularly galling to see that one of the few points of common ground is cutting the Low Income Heating Assistance Program.

The omnibus spending bill that squeaked through Congress last weekend cuts $1.2 billion from the program, reducing heating aid from $4.7 billion to $3.5 billion. As bad as that looks, it could have been even worse if President Obama’s plan to cut the program to $2.5 billion had been approved.

A bipartisan group of senators including Maine’s Olympia Snowe is fighting to restore the funding, but unless there is a dramatic change it looks like a number of Maine people who can’t afford to heat their homes will have to go without during the coldest months of the year.

This will be particularly tough in this state, which is an outlier in several important categories.

We are more reliant on heating oil than any other state, with 80 percent of homes heating with oil, which is subject to wild price swings.

We also have the oldest housing stock in the nation, meaning that many of those homes are drafty.

And we have the highest average age of any state, meaning we have a higher concentration of low income elderly who rely on heating assistance to make it through the winter.

The long-term solutions would be to keep investing in energy efficiency and promoting less expensive alternative energy sources, like natural gas. But those strategies won’t help people who need help this winter as the temperatures drop.

This year, the typical family is expected to pay $3,300 to heat with oil, which is about $500 more than last year. It is not out of the realm of possibility to say that under these conditions, some people could die if they don’t get help.

This Congress, the most unpopular in the history of polling, has nothing to show for itself except for the damage it could have done but didn’t. The government did not shut down and the nation did not default on its debt in 2011. But Congress failed in so many other areas because of increasingly bitter ideological debate.

As low income elderly try to make it through a Maine winter with no heat, perhaps someone can explain to them what in that debate was so important.