Government intervention in the American oil industry?

Lou Dobbs analyzes O'Reilly's solution for high gas prices


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 24, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly reporting from L.A.

And in the "Lou's the Boss" segment tonight, last Friday, Lou Dobbs reported that the American oil companies were exporting products to places like China and other foreign countries, and that is bad news for American consumers, who are getting absolutely hammered at the gas pump.

Now, it is my contention that we, the people, own the gas and oil discovered in America. It's our land, and the government administers it in our name. That's why oil companies have to get permits. They can't just run around drilling anywhere. That's why there are environmental laws to protect the land and the water which, again, are the domain of we, the people.

Here now from New York City, Lou Dobbs.

So, we talked with Charles Krauthammer up top, and he said he didn't know it was a good idea for President Obama to call in the oil company chieftains and basically say, "Look, we've got to work together to get this thing under control." What say you?

LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS BUSINESS ANCHOR: Well, I think that is a great idea, actually, for any leader to bring the principal actors together and say, "Look, this is what I, the president of the United States, consider to be in the interests of the American people and the nation. This is what you're going to do."

It's job owning. It's been done historically throughout this nation's entire history by presidents. It's exactly the right thing to do.

The unfortunate part is we have a president right now who is incapable. He lacks the standing with the business community and point of fact as a leader to successfully carry that out.

O'REILLY: Well, but he's still the president. If he wants them to show up, they're going to show up.

DOBBS: Sure they are.

O'REILLY: You know, I don't know whether convince them of anything. But you correct me if I'm wrong. You're much smarter on economics than I am. There's a lot of subjectivity built into these oil prices.

DOBBS: Sure there are.

O'REILLY: You basically have speculators. We understand how they drive up the price. But somebody said the other day 30 percent of what Americans are now paying at the pump is speculation.

And then there is the overseas markets. They're getting more money over in certain countries they get here because demand here is down.

But the oil companies, they have -- they can put whatever they want. They can charge whatever they want. Nobody's telling them what to charge, correct?

DOBBS: Absolutely correct. And the idea -- and I understand why the petroleum institute and all these trade groups would say, you know, really, don't worry about the fact that we're now exporting gasoline and diesel and jet fuel. It just doesn't really amount to much.

That's, you know, that's basically saying the law of supply and demand doesn't apply to crude oil. And that might be serviceable for some, but it's not to me or most Americans, who now are paying $3.65 on average at the pumps while we have watched our exports double over the course of the past couple of years to -- to Brazil, to Mexico, to China.

O'REILLY: Well, here's the bigger picture, though. If this continues to happen -- and it may, I mean, but...

DOBBS: We hope it does, actually.


DOBBS: We hope that exports actually continue.

O'REILLY: No, no, no. But if high retail gas prices continue for the American consumer, we're going to go back into recession. I mean, because this is taking too much money in disposable income that people would spend in other places. So unemployment is going to go up. The recession's going to come back. So it's really a national security issue.

And this is why I'm urging President Obama and Congress to get involved to some extent here. You can't tell the oil companies what to charge. We're not a socialistic nation.

DOBBS: Right.

O'REILLY: We can't do that. But you can basically say, "We know you have subjectivity, and we're just asking you, all right, to basically help us out here." And I don't think that's unreasonable.

DOBBS: I don't think it's unreasonable, Bill. But I would even proffer a solution if I may. And you hit on it.

The oil that we're talking about, the petroleum that we're talking about, the coal, all of the vast energy reserves in this country belong to us, as you said.

In Alaska there's a perfect model for what we should do as a nation. We should have -- what it's called there is a permanent trust. Let's call it the American trust. And oil companies, who put about $10 billion into fees and royalties every year, have that money go into this trust fund. Not to be touched by the Treasury Department or any other federal agency. But simply for the investment on behalf of the American people. Citizens.

A couple of things happen. One is it reminds everybody whose oil this is, whose coal this is, and what the rights of an American citizen are. And it even puts a little money, a little dollar sign next to what it's worth to be a citizen.

Now dividends dispersed and distributed every year have invested that money, most of it invested and returns built up. We have seen the permanent fund in Alaska rise from less than a billion dollars to $40 billion over the course of 30 years.

O'REILLY: So you would do that on a national level?

DOBBS: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: And people would get a little bit of largess from the oil companies.

DOBBS: A little largess and a little respect. And you know what? You talked about asking them to be nice. Job owning to me is saying you're going to be nice and you're going to act in the interests, whoever these CEOs may be.

O'REILLY: Or we're going to take -- right. Go ahead.

DOBBS: We peg that thing to the price of gasoline. Peg it to the price of crude oil. And that money go into that trust fund for the American people. I think you'd see a lot of people start to pay a little different attention to what the American people think.

O'REILLY: That's a good idea.

DOBBS: And respect citizens a little more.

O'REILLY: All right. We're causing a lot of trouble, though. I'll tell you that. In one week we reported -- Dobbs and I started last Friday, and now everybody is all going crazy.

DOBBS: Bill, if you haven't put focus on this issue I am absolutely convinced the president wouldn't have been talking about it just yesterday.

O'REILLY: Well, he's going to have to do something.

Lou, thanks very much.

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