Q Mr. President, understanding what you say about energy supplies being tight and the debate over energy, which has gone on for years and will continue long through the campaign and into the next administration -- one thing nobody debates is that if Americans use less energy the current supply/demand equation would improve. Why have you not sort of called on Americans to drive less and to turn down the thermostat?
THE PRESIDENT: They're smart enough to figure out whether they're going to drive less or not. I mean, you know, it's interesting what the price of gasoline has done, is it caused people to drive less. That's why they want smaller cars, they want to conserve. But the consumer is plenty bright, Mark. The marketplace works.
Secondly, we have worked with Congress to change CAFE standards, and had a mandatory alternative fuel requirement.
So no question about what you just said is right. One way to correct the imbalance is to save, is to conserve. And as you notice my statement yesterday, I talked about good conservation. And people can figure out whether they need to drive more or less; they can balance their own checkbooks.
Q But you don't see the need to ask -- you don't see the value of your calling for a campaign --
THE PRESIDENT: I think people ought to conserve and be wise about how they use gasoline and energy. Absolutely. And there's some easy steps people can take. You know, if they're not in their home, they don't keep their air-conditioning running. There's a lot of things people can do.
But my point to you, Mark, is that, you know, it's a little presumptuous on my part to dictate to consumers how they live their lives. The American people are plenty capable and plenty smart people and they'll make adjustments to their own pocketbooks. That's why I was so much in favor of letting them keep more of their own money. It's a philosophical difference: Should the government spend their money, or should they spend their own money? And I've got faith in the American people.
And as much as I regret that the gasoline prices are high -- and they are -- I also understand that people are going to make adjustments to meet their own needs. And I suspect you'll see, in the whole, Americans using less gasoline. I bet that's going to happen. And in the meantime, technologies will be coming on the market that will enable them to drive and save money, compared to the automobiles they're using before. And as you notice, the automobile industry is beginning to adjust here at home as consumer demand changes. And the great thing about our system, it is the consumer that drives our system; it's the individual American and their collection that end up driving the economy.
Emphases mine. Not many people like this in Congress, unfortunately, including the two guys running for the major party nominations.
Related: Larry Kudlow notes that when Bush rescinded the executive order prohibiting offshore drilling, the price of oil on the market went down $9. He also notes that California fields could be producing oil within a year. So much for that "It won't do any good for ten years!" nonsense.