Time for Congress to Put More Money in Workers' Pockets

We spotted an item in the local Nevada news yesterday, Sen. Reid calling for an increase in the minimum wage on Labor Day, almost a rite of passage for anyone who seeks union support. It is after all a year divisible by 2, thereby guaranteeing that a minimum wage debate will be upon us. Best estimates are that about 1.5 percent of the total workforce of 150 million workers in the United States earn the minimum wage. We have a better idea, one that would put more money in the pockets of all workers.

When Congress comes back today, they will find some unfinished business. Among the issues left to be resolved is the bill that passed both the House and Senate prior to the Labor Day break allowing us to tap our own resources in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). As our annual Labor Day Report showed, both health care and energy costs are taking a bigger bite out of workers' paychecks, making them feel like they are falling behind. Members from both parties well appreciate the fact that there are no silver bullets to fix the health care issue.

However, when it comes to energy, anyone who has taken Economics 101 ought to be able to see their way clear. We are the only nation in the world that restricts access to its own natural resources, a fairly astonishing fact. We call all those other countries, "competitors." They are busy pulling all the energy they can from all sources in order to compete more effectively with us. In France alone, they get 80% of their energy from nuclear power. Cuba is drilling for oil some 45 miles off our coast and is getting ready to work with China to allow them to do the same. Yet we sit on massive -- and untouchable -- oil, coal and natural gas reserves. And American workers are quite literally paying the price.

The power to put more money in workers' pockets is in Congress' hands. Finishing work on the OCS bill will open up domestic supplies of energy and will begin to bring down the cost of energy for all workers. It really is that easy. Of course, we need alternative sources, efficiency and conservation. Manufacturers are on the leading edge of all three. But this is not an either/or proposition. We need to be about the business of boosting domestic supply.

Then Members can go back to the District and say they've truly done something to enhance the well-being of all American workers.

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