Blogging President Bush’s news conference

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A nice day for a news conference in the Rose Garden.

Main points of the president’s morning news conference:

9:30 – Gas prices up $1.40 a gallon. Blasts Congress for not passing major legislation. Says it has blocked search for oil in ANWR. Says it could lead to 27 million gallons of gasoline a day and “likely mean lower gas prices.”

9:33 – “It’s been more than 30 years since America built a refinery.” Blames Congress for that. Also blames Congress for lack of nuclear power.

>> Side note. Favorite saying, “The cure for high prices is high prices.” New York Times reports today that’s not working out this time.

9:36 – Says Congress is passing a “bloated” farm bill that fails to eliminate subsidies for “millionaire farmers.” Notes that times are good right now for the farmer.

9:38 – Wants Congress to stop “sending bills that look like political statements.”

Q&A

Q: You said we need to wait until stimulus package is taken effect to act again but since it was passed foreclosures are up, gas prices up etc.? Time for further action and would you support moratorium on federal gas tax?

A: Money is just now making it into peoples’ bank accounts. Wait and see. If Congress is “truly interested,” they can send the right signal by saying “we’re going to explore for oil and gas in U.S. territories, starting with ANWR.” Proposes refineries on abandoned military bases.

Q; Were you premature in saying the U.S. economy was not in recession when food and energy prices are soaring. What more can you do to persuade Saudis to increase oil output?

A: The words on how to define economy don’t reflect the anxiety of the American public. The average person doesn’t care what we call it; the average person wants to know whether or not we know that they’re paying higher gasoline prices and that they’re worried about staying in their homes and I do understand that. That’s why I call upon Congress to pass legislation that will enable people to… stay in their homes. These are tough times. Economists can argue over the terminology. The American people want to know whether Congress knows it (that these are tough times).

We’re transitioning to a new era, by the way. An era where we’re going to have batteries in our cars that are going to… enable people to drive 40 miles. More ethanol, alternative fuels. Our driving habits will change. (Repeats call for more refineries – See list of coming refinery shutdowns here.)

Q: Do you believe the alleged link between high food prices and biofuels?

A: I think 85% of world food prices are caused by weather, increased demand, and energy prices. 15% has been caused by ethanol. High price of gas is going to spur more investment in ethanol. It’s in our national interest that our farmers grow energy. We are concerned about food prices. We should buy food from local farmers as a way to deal with scarcity and put infrastructure in place so we could be self-sustaining.

Q: Flesh out thinking on why gas tax moratorium is a good idea or not.

A: Appreciate you trying to drag me into the ’08 race. We’re concerned about high gasoline prices. I’m not going to jump into the middle of a presidential campaign.

Q: Do you think we’ve neared peak oil and if so, why haven’t you put more emphasis on renewable energy?

A: We put a lot into ethanol. The solution is making ethanol out of switchgrasses or wood chips. Energy policy needs to be comprehensive. The problem is there’s been a lot of focus in the intermediate steps but not enough emphasis on the hear here (dangit!) and now. (Bob notes: “Immediate” is not “hearhere and now?”) More riffs on ANWR.

Q: Should the U.S. stop filling the strategic petroleum reserve?

A: Wouldn’t affect price. We’re buying about 67,000-68,000 barrels of oil a day. World demand is 85 million barrels a day. The purchases account for 1/10 of 1 percent of global demand. I don’t think that’s going to affect price. It is in our national interest to get reserve filled. Al Qaeda wants to blow up oil facilities.

Q: Are we winning in Afghanistan?

A: We’re making progress but there’s a resilient enemy. Important to remember what life was like in Afghanistan before the country was liberated. Pleased with roads that have been built. Pleased with little girls being allowed to go to school.

Q: But do you think we’re winning?

A: I do.

Q: In Iraq in 2006, you said we were winning and the strategy was working to boost troop morale. How can we believe you’re not doing the same thing…

A: Are you trying to answer my question before? The question you asked me before — and the exclusive I gave you at the ranch (this is to Martha Radatz) — was ‘you said we were winning in the past,’ I also said that there was tough fighting. Make sure you put the comments in place. What I will tell you now is we’re making progress in Afghanistan but it’s tough fighting. I’m under no illusions that this isn’t tough.

The notion that we can let these people have their way… let’s don’t stir ‘em up… is naive or disingenuous and it’s not in our nation’s interest. We’re in a global fight against thugs and killers and the United States of America has got to continue to take the lead.

Q: Last week you released classified photos of Israeli bombing of Syrian nuclear facility after earlier refusing to discuss it. Why the turnaround?

A: We briefed 22 members of Congress on what I’m about to tell you. We were concerned that an early disclosure would increase the risk of a confrontation in the Middle East or retaliation. We wanted to include more members of Congress when the risk of retaliation was reduced. That time came upon us. We want to let the North Koreans know that “we may know more about you than you think.” Wanted to send message to Syria and Iran.

Q: (Softball) Are you frustrated, angry with Congress?

A: They’re letting the American people down. It’s either lack of leadership or the lack of understanding of the issue (FISA), but either way it’s not good for the American people.

Q: I’m still waiting for my exclusive at the ranch .

A: Yeah….(laughs)… I’m at a loss for words. If only you’d have been at the White House Correspondents Dinner, I would’ve invited you. (Bob notes: This must be a NY Times reporter. The Times skipped the dinner. Good line.)

Q: ANWR, oil refineries are long-term solutions to gas prices. What are you doing in the short term?

A: It’s intermediate term (ANWR). Market’s going to encourage conservation. If there was a magic wand to wave I’d be waving it.

Q: Has Jimmy Carter’s meeting with Hamas leaders undercut foreign policy?

A: Hamas is undercutting foreign policy. It’s important for people to understand we’re witnessing a struggle between those who understand liberty and those who want to stop it. Anybody can talk to anybody they want.

Q: Did any good come out of Carter’s talk with Hamas.

A: I didn’t talk to him and I don’t know.

Q: Are you worried your successor will neglect war on terror?

A: I don’t think John McCain is going to neglect the war on terror and I do think he will be the president (acknowledges that earlier said he wouldn’t inject himself into the campaign).

Q; What will it take for you to say “we are in a recession”?

A: I’ve answered the question on the words. These are very difficult times, we’ll let the economists define it for what it is. Calls for making tax cuts permanent.

(end)

  • http://www.stevemullis.net Steve Mullis

    Is it just me, or is GW more jovial and answering questions about war and Iraq with more levity than usual?

    Someone has a case of senioritis!

  • Bob Collins

    I can’t say i detected that. He had some good give-and-take with reporters in a light-hearted manner, but I don’t think that was reflective of a particular issue. He gets along pretty well with the White House press corps.

  • bsimon

    Curious that he wants to continue filling the strategic reserve and claims that doesn’t have an effect on prices, but also argues for drilling in ANWR, claiming it WILL have an effect on prices. But stopping the strategic reserve filling can be done today, while production in ANWR is roughly a decade away, if restrictions on drilling there are eliminated today. Am I the only one that thinks he’s being a bit disingenuous?

  • Joel

    Seems to me all legislation is a political statement of one kind or another.

  • Joel

    bsimon,

    Just a bit? lol

    Bush’s argument is very similar to what Glenn Beck had to say in his latest cnn.com blog post – very hypocritical and contradicting…basically says to save the planet in the future we must destroy it now. So smart.

  • http://n466pg.blogspot.com Daveg

    “Immediate” is not “hear[sic] and now?”

    Immediate is here and now, but the transcript says “intermediate,” which is not here and now. Typo?

  • http://n466pg.blogspot.com Daveg

    Curious that he wants to continue filling the strategic reserve and claims that doesn’t have an effect on prices

    I read that as him saying that buying gas on the market in order to fill the reserve is not having a demand effect on prices. In other words, buying in such small volume compared to wordwide demand is not enough of an increase in demand to cause the prices to raise further.

  • c

    //We’re in a global fight against thugs and killers and the United States of America has got to continue to take the lead.//

    especially now that we have a new fangled police car with crimefighting doodads the global bad guys better watch out.

  • bsimon

    daveg writes

    “buying in such small volume compared to wordwide demand is not enough of an increase in demand to cause the prices to raise further.”

    I understand that. Doesn’t the same rule apply to ANWR? Increasing supply by such a small volume will have a negligible effect on prices. Furthermore, that supply won’t enter the market until roughly a decade from now – which surely means it will have zero effect on gas prices Americans are paying today.

  • http://www.cleanerairchoice.org Bob Moffitt

    Hmmm. When did Congress get the job of building new refineries?

    His answer on biofuels and food was interesting — first time I have heard those particular numbers, and I know a thing or two on this subject.

    Franlkly, I don’t think anyone has all the answers to to food prices — and certainly biofuels is not the root of all evil in the world, as some might suggest.

    The role of financial speculation on the commodities markets has come up lately, but I suspect this is a very complex issue without simple solutions.

  • Bob Collins

    I stand by my many-times-before-stated advice on today’s gas prices: slow down. Once again on the morning commute to work, the number of cars passing at 70-75 mph was astounding.

    Just guessing, it means people want energy prices to come down, they just don’t want to actually DO anything to help that happen. Kind of typical of us nowadays, isn’t it?

  • Andy

    I agree Bob. Sadly, I commute nearly 100 miles per day (I hate it, but I do what I have to do) so I notice driving habits and trends. Personally, I’ve dramatically changed my driving habits and have had very positive results. With “normal driving” I would get 30-31 miles per gallon with my car. Now I drive a few mph under (yes, under) the speed limit, I coast towards stop signs and lights and I accelerate as if I were roughly 85 years old. I now consistently get 36+ mpg with my car. It doesn’t matter what you drive, your mileage can easily be increased. Google “hypermiling” and there are many tips on how to get the most of each gallon of gas you buy.

  • Bob Collins

    Andy. You and I need to form a support group for “people who drive like old men.” I shut off the car at long stop lights.

    Haven’t tried drafting behind trucks yet, though.

  • Andy

    I’ve considered turning my car off at stop lights – that’s not a bad tip. I’d be weary of drafting behind large trucks – they kick up a lot of debris causing many chips in your paint. Also the drivers tend to not appreciate the practice. They’re much bigger, so I try to stay on their good side. As far as the support group goes, we could make bumper stickers that read; “If this car is speeding, it’s stolen” or “Life in the Slow Lane”.

  • Jmie

    He gets along pretty well with the White House press corps.

    He should. They’ve been his transcribers for the last 7+ years.

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    About the driving behind trucks — It’s called “drafting”? Can’t believe there’s actually a name for it.

    Anyhoo… Please don’t do that! It’s very dangerous! Our friends, Click and Clack agree. They addressed it on an episode some time ago. They said you’d have to drive really really really close to the truck to get a tiny benefit, and of course, that’s way dangerous!