Calling upon lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas said Saturday the federal government can do a better job of caring for its citizens.

Consumers need protection from price gouging in times of gasoline shortages and supply delays and low-income families need help paying home-heating fuel bills, projected to rise by as much as 50 percent this winter, Pryor said in the weekly Democratic radio address.

High energy costs also are hurting small and large businesses alike, he said.

Pryor said Congress and the Bush administration must return to an era of "responsible budgeting" and be less inclined to advocate tax cuts for special interests as a remedy for economic ills.

"We simply must do a better job of putting the needs of all Americans over the wants of a privileged few," the senator said.

He also stressed the importance of energy independence and said the country should waste no time in developing alternative fuels

Pryor reminded listeners that much work in health care, housing and economic opportunities remained to rebuild communities damaged by Gulf Coast hurricanes, and pledged Democratic resolve to fix problems that caused the failed government response to Hurricane Katrina.