Snott Stanzel Trips On The Numbers
Q What’s the latest on SPR? And you said earlier the President intended to sign off on it — why, if that’s not something he really believes in?
MR. STANZEL: We have — I said this morning I thought that we had received the bill late last week, but actually we expect to receive it this afternoon. So there’s been no action by the President yet on that.
I would note that as we have said numerous times, we don’t believe that halting the fill of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will have much of an impact on oil prices, and therefore an impact on gas prices. What you see in this chart is basically the daily fill of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is about 70,000 barrels. What you saw on the President’s visit to the Middle East, there was talk of Saudi Arabia increasing their daily production by about 300,000 barrels. Both of those were noted to be somewhat small amounts that would not probably have much of an impact on world oil prices.
I think it’s worth noting that if ANWR had come on line 10 years ago, or 13 years ago when it was rejected, we might be seeing a million barrels of daily production out of that here domestically. So we think that it’s important for Congress to not get sidetracked with a discussion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Q Your chart doesn’t show the daily consumption, which is about 20 million barrels —
MR. STANZEL: Right, that’s correct.
Q — which makes all of these numbers relatively insignificant.
MR. STANZEL: Well, but 1 million out of 20 million is, what, 5 percent, Bill? Five percent difference is a difference.
Q Yes, but we can’t get there anytime soon.
MR. STANZEL: No, we can’t, because Congress keeps putting off the fact with — going from band-aid to band-aid that they think will have an impact, but really won’t.
Chimpy vs. Congressional Republikkkans
Q Scott, is the President disappointed that dozens of Republicans in Congress are supporting the farm bill? And what’s the latest on timing in terms of presidential action on the farm bill?
MR. STANZEL: We have not yet received the farm bill. That was passed last week, obviously.
But the President has been disappointed with what came forward — what came through Congress. We see a bill that is bloated; that asks taxpayers, at a time of record-high farm income, to pay — and at a time when they’re paying more for groceries, to pay even more to wealthy farmers. And we don’t think that’s the right approach. And the President and the administration will continue to make that case. Like I said, we haven’t received the bill yet. We expect that we’ll receive it sometime this week, and the President will veto it.
Q Is he particularly, though, disappointed with his own party, members of his own party supporting it?
MR. STANZEL: Well, I think that there are — certainly members respond to different interests, maybe from their districts. But in the grand scheme of things, the President wanted a bill that would reform our farm laws for the future, that would make wise use of the taxpayers’ money, that wouldn’t increase subsidies at a time of record-high incomes. There are some things in this bill that are just unconscionable.
Q Scott, the President, though, reportedly told some of the legislators on the Republican side that it was all right if they — or signaled that it was okay if they voted their districts, meaning they could support it if their districts supported it.
MR. STANZEL: That is actually a bit of a rumor that came out of the meeting that the President had with the House GOP conference. He did not absolve anybody of their votes. He did indicate that obviously different factors come into weighing on people’s votes. But he did not say, go ahead and vote your district. He certainly put forward the reasons why he thought that that bill was bad for the taxpayers, and one that he would veto.
The Death Knell For John McStain
Q Well, 82 percent of Americans think the country is headed on the wrong track. The President has a pretty low approval rating right now. When he hits the road with John McCain, what’s his pitch to voters? Does he think he can actually help this candidate?
MR. STANZEL: Well, I think that, first of all, it would be interesting to note the approval rating of Congress, as well, which is lower than all of those numbers that you cite. The President, when he gets out and talks on the campaign trail, regardless of what candidate he is supporting, will talk about the fact that he believes that Republicans going into this fall have the message that can be supported by voters, and that is one that keeps us strong, keeps us safe as a nation, one that uses — makes wise use of the taxpayers’ money and keeps taxes low, to make sure that the economy continues to grow.
So the President believes very strongly that if we get out and take our message to voters, that we can be successful.
Q Are we going to see a lot of them together?
MR. STANZEL: I think you’ll see the President out on the campaign quite — campaign trail quite a bit. We’ll keep you posted on their events that they may have together.
You And Your Goddamned Liberal Blogs!
Q The White House has denied that it knew about the Pentagon program that used TV military analysts —
MR. STANZEL: We’ve been through this before. Do you have a question?
Q Yes. There’s something new. Last week emails surfaced that showed that Pentagon officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, communicated with White House officials, including Karl Rove and Stephen Hadley, about the program. One email written by a Pentagon official mentioned that Rove was approached about arranging a meeting between the military analysts and the President —
MR. STANZEL: Your question is?
Q My question is, what was the nature and extent of the involvement of Karl Rove, Stephen Hadley and President Bush in the military analyst program?
MR. STANZEL: Well, the idea that people in the administration would brief people who are talking to reporters about our programs and our policies doesn’t seem like to be that far-fetched of an idea to me. So in terms of the emails, I haven’t been monitoring the staff emails here, so I can’t tell you what their conversations were like. But it’s not unusual for administration officials to brief people who are talking about our plans and our policies. Much like I’m standing here today, briefing all of you —
Q Right, and why was the program kept secret?
MR. STANZEL: — and much like I’m standing here answering your question, and you go out on your liberal blog and talk about the way that you see things; we brief people who talk about the President’s policies.
Q Why was the program kept secret?
MR. STANZEL: You can talk to the Defense Department. It was their program — which they’ve discontinued.
Q Who was in charge at the White House?
Les vs. Big Oil
Q There have been — there has been yet another almost nationally uniform raising of gasoline prices to more than $4 a gallon. And my question: Does the President believe that there is no sign whatsoever of any conspiracy in restraint of trade here, and does the White House believe that Election Day in November that the majority of voters will blame him or will they blame members of the majority party on Capitol Hill?
MR. STANZEL: I don’t think the President is focused on blame, Lester. He’s focused on solutions that will have a difference for the future. Certainly rising demand in oil around the world is having an impact on gasoline prices. You mentioned $4.00 — the average price is not yet there —
Q It all goes up together. Did you notice that? All of those oil companies —
MR. STANZEL: I certainly did notice that.
Q — go up together. What about that?
MR. STANZEL: Well, oil is sold on a world market, Lester, so that is a case in point of what we see. But the President believes that we should focus on ways that we can reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, that we can expand use of alternative fuels, that we can reduce our consumption through raising CAFE standards, and make sure that we take those measures that will help us in the future, like expanding exploration in ANWR, the Outer Continental Shelf, as an example.