The following is a transcript of the Democratic response by Sen. Frank Lautenberg to President Bush's radio address:
Good morning, I'm Frank Lautenberg, United States Senator from New Jersey. This week, the price of oil and gasoline both hit new record highs — almost $120 for a barrel of oil and more than $3.50 a gallon for gas.
These out-of-control prices mean that hundreds of thousands of Americans are driving to work and spending too much of their day just earning back the cost of their commute. The American people deserve to know why this happened.
• Transcript: President Bush's Radio Address
When President Bush took office, gas prices were less than half of what they are today, and oil was less than one-third. Then, seven years ago, President Bush and Vice President Cheney secretly invited executives from the big oil and big energy companies to the White House to write our national energy policy.
When we finally uncovered the truth, we discovered, to no surprise, that Big Oil helped write a law that guaranteed them billions and billions of dollars in tax giveaways while they set in motion disastrous economic and environmental policies that have served no one but themselves.
Now, they are hauling in record profits. We are paying record prices. And their profits are coming out of our pockets.
It's long past time to change our national priorities. We know there's little hope that President Bush will suddenly wake up and see the light. But unfortunately, his Republican allies in Congress continue to stand by his side, with the oil and energy companies — for the status quo and against the American people.
Democrats are fighting hard for change, and we have made real progress. We passed a new energy bill that begins to turn the tide by improving gas mileage for cars and trucks, investing in clean, renewable fuels and other smart energy steps, such as improving the energy efficiency of our buildings.
But we also face the problem of market speculation — and manipulation. We need to rein in traders who keep bidding oil prices higher and higher, leaving the American people to foot the bill.
On top of these short-term solutions, we also need to face the long-term problem of oil consumption. Our country burns 21 million gallons of oil every day. Two-thirds of that oil is imported from unstable regions of the world, run by governments who are not our friends.
The long-term solution to our energy crisis lies in alternative fuels and efficiency. If we aggressively promote innovation in solar, wind, biofuels and geothermal power, we can help lower energy prices, turn the tide on global warming and strengthen our national security. And while we're doing all that, we will be creating hundreds of thousands of good new jobs right here in America.
Republicans won't break with the status quo easily. The grip of Big Oil and energy companies is strong. That's why we need you to help us keep the pressure on President Bush and the Republicans who are intent on rewarding their oil friends while they stick the American people with the bill.
The stakes are too high for that kind of cronyism and cynical politics. Democrats reject them. And together, I know we can solve this crisis.
I am Sen. Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey. Thank you, and have a great weekend.