Bush says he won't impose price controls on energy
KALAMAZOO, Michigan (CNN) -- President Bush vowed Tuesday never to impose price controls on energy, sending a strong signal to consumers, Congress and the energy markets that the rules of supply and demand would prevail -- even if it means dramatically higher energy prices.
"The tests for any energy policy are simple," Bush said. "Does it increase supply and do its incentives encourage conservation? A policy that fails to meet these tests is bad public policy. And that is why this administration does not and will not support energy price controls."
The White House wanted to make its policy on price controls clear to Republicans in Congress, some of whom have been agitating for price controls. The president told Republican House deputy whips last week he would oppose all price controls, but the White House wanted to hit the message even harder.
Bush said price controls in the 1970s led to the long gasoline lines that vexed consumers and created an impression of economic weakness.
"Price controls do not increase supply, and they do not encourage conservation. Price controls contributed to the gas lines of the 1970s. And the United States will not repeat the mistake again," the president said.
The administration's hard line will be cold comfort to Californians now facing price spikes as a result of that state's continuing electricity crisis. The administration has said it will support some relief for low-income consumers who may not be able to cope with higher energy prices. But beyond that, the president said, the solution to the nation's energy woes -- in California and elsewhere -- lay in producing more energy at home.
"The energy problem wasn't created overnight, and we won't solve the problem overnight," Bush said. "But we will at least start down the right road, so that the shortages we face today will not recur year after year. We will solve the energy problem by freeing the creativity of the American people to find new sources of energy and to develop the new technologies that use energy better, more efficiently and more cleanly."
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