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Wickers Warns of the Dangers of a Lame Duck


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Over the past two years, we have seen this Administration and Congress drive through an unpopular health care bill, a costly trillion-dollar stimulus plan, and controversial financial reform. As we near the end of this Congress, some members have their eye on one last shot to push through partisan bills. This is known as the lame-duck session -- the period between the elections and the swearing-in of the new Congress in January.

All bills currently pending in Congress will die at the end of the year. The sponsors of these bills would have to start over next year by reintroducing the legislation, requesting committee hearings and markups, and seeking support from lawmakers. To satisfy their special interest groups, Democratic leadership could take advantage of their current majority and try to pass unfinished items like card check, cap and trade, and tax hikes before the year ends.

A Final Gift for Big Labor

The Employee Free Choice Act or "card check," is one of the proposals that could come to light again in the lame-duck session. This pro-union bill makes it easier for unions to organize by eliminating secret ballots. The legislation removes an employee's fundamental right to vote by private ballot on whether to unionize, opening the door for coercion by union officials. The bill also gives too much power to the Washington bureaucrats by allowing them to dictate contracts, wages, and benefits for companies.

All American job creators would suffer under a card check bill. According to a study by the Law and Economics Consulting Group, card check would result in the loss of 600,000 jobs in the first year alone. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, the Democratic chair of the committee overseeing labor issues, has said that his party is "still trying to maneuver" a way to pass card check before the next Congress is sworn-in. This job-killing bill has been defeated in the past, and I will continue to fight against any efforts to ram it through Congress.

Energy Tax Back on the Table?

Climate change legislation is another potential item that could resurface. In August, Carol Browner, the Administration's top energy adviser, confirmed that President Obama remains committed to passing a climate change bill and acknowledged that it could come up after the election.

The President's plan would include a devastating new carbon tax called cap and trade that raises energy prices for American families at a time when they can least afford it. Not only would we see gas prices and electric bills increase under this new tax, but also the cost of food and groceries. Additionally, this cap and tax plan would put U.S. workers at a disadvantage to their overseas competitors that are not subjected to the same energy costs and government regulations.

The Right Priority for Congress

The single most important thing Congress should have done by now was pass legislation to prevent the massive 2011 tax hikes. I have cosponsored a bill known as the Tax Hike Prevention Act that would extend tax relief for all Americans. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have blocked such efforts from being considered.

As a result, all taxpayers now face the largest tax hike in American history. In Mississippi, a family with a median income of $46,668 would pay about $2,000 more in taxes, representing more than a 100 percent increase. These tax hikes also would hit 50 percent of small business income and 25 percent of the American workforce. These tax increases are not the answer to our economic problems and high unemployment rate.

Rather than use the lame duck session as an opportunity to clear liberal agenda items like card check and cap and trade, Congress should pass the Tax Hike Prevention Act so Americans can keep more of their hard earned money in their own pockets. Americans do not want any more major legislation passed against their will.

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