The PJ Tatler

High energy prices: Poor, minorities hardest hit

For once, that’s not a joke or a liberal talking point. It’s the results of a study that looked into the impact of energy prices on American families.

Lower-income households are paying nearly a quarter of their income for energy costs. The 27 million lower-income households earning between $10,000 and $30,000, representing 23% of U.S. households, will allocate 23% of their 2011 after-tax income to energy, more than twice the national average of 11%.

Minority households are disproportionately impacted by higher energy costs. In 2009, 62% of Hispanic households and 67% of black households had average annual incomes below $50,000, compared with 46% of white households and 39% of Asian households. Energy costs represent a much larger fraction of disposable income for households earning less than $50,000 than for wealthier families. Due to these income inequalities, the burdens of energy price increases are imposed disproportionately on black and Hispanic households.

Senior citizens living on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable to energy price increases. Seniors have the highest per capita residential energy consumption among all age categories. The average basic Social Security income of 31.5 million senior households was $15,443 in 2009. The median income of 25.3 million households with a principal householder aged 65 or older was $31,354.

Two points to bring this story home. One, skyrocketing energy prices — which disproportionately impact the poor, minorities and the elderly — are part of President Obama’s plan for “fundamentally transforming” America, as he was kind enough to tell us himself. And two, Republicans are holding voted in Congress today to rein in the EPA, which has become a weapon in the service of Obama’s agenda. One of those votes is on Rep. Fred Upton’s Energy Tax Prevention Act in the House, and the other is on the McConnell amendment in the Senate. So while the president’s agenda is hurting the most vulnerable among us the most, it’s the GOP in both houses of Congress who are trying to stop him.