There's Work to Do During the Congressional Recess
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By Tom Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
With most members of Congress back in their home districts for the August recess, now is an ideal time for citizens to personally lobby them on key issues and to participate in town hall meetings and other issue-related community events.
The most urgent priority is health care reform. Across the country, citizens from all walks of life have spoken out against a government-run health plan that would gut the employer-based system that provides insurance to more than 160 million people. Americans understand that there are better ways to expand access to health care, improve quality, and reduce costs. A healthy democracy depends on this kind of give-and-take, and these citizens should be applauded for exercising their rights. If anything, business owners and families should be speaking out on even more issues!
Citizens should also take the opportunity to voice their opinions on climate change legislation, which the Senate is expected to consider this fall. The cap-and-trade bill passed by the House—better known as Waxman-Markey—could limit energy supplies, stifle economic growth, increase fuel costs, and result in millions of lost jobs. A better way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect the environment is by encouraging greater energy efficiency, the development of clean energy technology, and international cooperation.
The federal spending bill for roads, highways, and public transportation systems expires at the end of September. Americans should tell their elected representatives to vote for long-term reauthorization legislation, with increased investment and less red tape. Without a significant investment in surface transportation infrastructure, we'll be faced with further delays and congestion, less productivity, and more infrastructure failures that result in injuries and death.
Finally, now is a good time to tell members of Congress that trying to resuscitate the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, or card check, is a bad idea. This job-killing legislation would effectively take away the private ballot from workers during union organizing campaigns and empower government-appointed arbitrators to dictate union contracts—covering wages, benefits, and work rules—on workers and employers.
Between now and Labor Day, don't miss the opportunity to visit with your elected officials and speak your mind on health care, climate change, transportation, and card check legislation. While members of Congress are at home, Americans need to steer them toward policies that will spur growth, new jobs, and increased prosperity. The future of our country depends on citizens like you standing up and being heard.