There were some gems in the president's Monday press conference (full text here). One exchange:
Q Thanks. Mr. President, what do you say to people who are losing patience with gas prices at $3 a gallon? And how much of a political price do you think you're paying for that right now?In addition to the rich and unintentionally honest slip---he's "been talking about gas prices ever since they got high," the belated concern being one reason they "got high" in the first place---the president answered the question by emphasizing the urgent, overarching need to diversify away from crude oil. How? By offering tax credits on the purchase of hybrids, encouraging the use of ethanol, and spending years building costly and long-term refinery infrastructure "hopefully" to increase the supply and lower the cost of gasoline. Cheaper gas, you see, will play an important role in encouraging Americans to use alternative...err, never mind.
THE PRESIDENT: I've been talking about gas prices ever since they got high, starting with this -- look, I understand gas prices are like a hidden tax. Not a hidden tax, it's a tax -- it's taking money out of people's pockets. I know that. All the more reason for us to diversify away from crude oil. That's not going to happen overnight. We passed law that encouraged consumption through different purchasing habits, like hybrid vehicles -- you buy a hybrid, you get a tax credit. We've encouraged the spread of ethanol as an alternative to crude oil. We have asked for Congress to pass regulatory relief so we can build more refineries to increase the supply of gasoline, hopefully taking the pressure off of price.
And so the strategy is to recognize that dependency upon crude oil is -- in a global market affects us economically here at home, and therefore, we need to diversify away as quickly as possible.