The War on the Poor

Energy is the creator of economic opportunities. Push energy prices up and everyone suffers. But who gets hurt first? The poor and disadvantaged. High energy prices make poor families pay even larger chunks of their meager incomes for energy. In fact, high utility bills are a leading cause of homelessness.

While Washington plays politics with American energy supplies, people are hurting – and the poor are hurting the most.

Energy consumed by low-income families is almost entirely for essentials — space and water heating, cooking, food refrigeration, and lighting. As energy prices rise, the poor are forced to make difficult spending choices.

While average Americans spend 5-10 percent of their income on energy, our poorest citizens spend up to 50 percent of their limited income on energy. That means life and death choices for some between food, medicine or fuel for heat and to stay cool. This is simply unacceptable.

The fact is, some elitist environmental groups want Americans to dramatically change how we live our lives. They believe American needs to go through a wholesale transformation of the nation’s economy and society. In their view, the best way to bring about this change is to lock our energy resources up in “protected” areas, and use the shortages and higher costs to push you to change.

For them, rising energy prices is seen as a means of reducing energy consumption. That simply isn’t an option for many low-income households.

Rising energy prices do a lot more than nudge a reluctant citizenry towards energy efficient cars and appliances – they wreak havoc on the financial lives of many low-income Americans.

Those of us who are pushing our leaders for real action – not words, arm-waving or finger-pointing – need to realize that every day we are unable to produce more energy for our citizens here at home, our nation’s poorest citizens suffer terribly.

That’s why I’m excited to see this silent minority in the energy debate finally do something. This afternoon a number of grassroots organizations will be rallying at Capitol Hill to demand that Congress “End the War on the Poor.”

For too long Democrats have avoided being forced to talk about the results of their “none-of-the-above” approach to energy. It’s time some light was shed on the consequences of their policies.

I hope the message of today’s rally is echoed far and wide and that the American people will finally awaken to the fact that the Democrat Party’s energy policies hurts first and foremost, the least among us.