Remarks Following a Meeting With Economic Advisers
I want to thank the members of my economic team for assembling here at the Department of Energy. Secretary Bodman, thank you for hosting us. First of all, Secretary Paulson came by this morning to brief me on the financial markets. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are very important institutions. You spent a fair amount of time discussing these institutions. He assured me that he and Ben Bernanke will be working this issue very hard.
Secondly, he did inform us that 112 million stimulus payments have gone out, and I congratulate you and your Department for doing your job. We've so far spent about $91 billion in tax relief, which has had a positive effect on retail sales. The problem, of course, is that gasoline prices are up, which has affected the people here in our country. And one of the main reasons why gasoline prices are up is because crude oil prices are up. And one reason crude oil prices are up is because demand is outstripping supply.
And therefore, what can we do about it? And that ought to be the question the United States Congress asks. And one way to deal with supply problems is to increase supply here in America. And one of the things we just went through at the briefing from Secretary Bodman and Secretary Kempthorne about the vast potential of crude oil reserves on offshore lands, as well as in Alaska, as well as in the oil shale in the western part of our country. And yet the Democratic leaders of Congress have consistently blocked opening up these lands for exploration.
The other part of our briefing was how we could explore in environmentally friendly ways. Technology has changed dramatically to enable the exploitation of oil in a way that protects the environment. You know, these Members of Congress, particularly the Democratic leadership, must address this issue before they go home for this upcoming August break. They have a responsibility to explain to their constituents why we should not be drilling for more oil here in America to take the pressure off of gasoline prices.
I want to thank you all very much for your briefing. These are tough economic times for the American citizens. There is a way forward to help relieve some of their—some of the pressure on their pocketbooks. And I'm looking forward to seeing—watching this Congress respond in a positive way.
NOTE: The President spoke at 11:38 a.m. at the Department of Energy.
George W. Bush, Remarks Following a Meeting With Economic Advisers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/277850