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High Gas Prices are Hurting Families

July 21, 2008
Weekly Columns

While Americans continue to pay ever increasing prices for gasoline, House and Senate leaders continue to block real solutions and instead appear to have adopted the policy of "pay more - drive less." What this absurd policy assumes is that only the people who have a significant daily commute are hurt by these high prices.  In reality, every family is impacted by these high prices regardless of whether they drive, use public transportation or walk.

A recent report released by The Heritage Foundation found that higher gas prices are adversely affecting employment, draining disposable income from families and forcing many of them to dip into personal savings just to make ends meet.  The analysts at the Foundation found that if gas prices continue to rise at their current rate, in one year total employment would go down by 586,000 jobs, personal disposable income would decrease by $532 billion and $400 billion in personal consumption expenses would not be spent in the market.  This $132 billion dollar difference will likely be met by dipping into personal and retirement savings and/or plunging deeper into debt.  Such a scenario should be deeply troubling to all Americans, not just those who have a significant daily commute.

As is often the case, states, private businesses and individual consumers are far ahead of the curve relative to the federal government.  While Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid block votes that would allow us to access our vast domestic reserves of oil, several states are exploring the possibility of moving to a four day work week for state employees.   Private businesses are modifying their work schedules in order to cut commute times, using alternative transportation and working remotely.  And individual drivers are adjusting their habits in an attempt to consume less gasoline and to do so more efficiently.

In the past few months I have co-sponsored several pieces of legislation that would boost domestic production of oil by accessing the resources we already have and by increasing our refining capacity.  In addition, I've co-sponsored legislation that would rebalance the United States' energy portfolio through the construction of new nuclear power plants and the extension of tax credits for renewable energy and hybrid vehicles.  I have been willing to support any policy that will help us achieve energy independence and bring price relief to American families.

There is no one solution to this problem; we must attack it from every angle.  But before any of this can happen, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid must allow these matters to be voted upon.  The reason they will not is because they know there is strong bi-partisan support to pass these common sense bills that are opposed by the radical environmentalists.  By preventing a vote, they are effectively hijacking the government, thwarting the will of the people, and contributing to the problem rather than helping to solve it.