Ari & I: April 6, 2001

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Ari & I: April 6, 2001

White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer

Mokhiber: A question – to change the subject for a second – about the President's political philosophy.

A couple of months ago, Business Week magazine did a poll which found that three-quarters of the American people believe that "business had gained too much power over their lives."

And in an editorial, Business Week called on corporations to "get out of politics."

Now, this reminded me of something I read by George Orwell, who defined fascism as an economy in which the government serves the interests of oligopolies, a state in which large corporations have the powers that in a democracy belong to the citizenry.

My question is, does the President agree with three-quarters of the American people that "business has gained too much power over their lives" and with the editorial that they should "get out of politics"?

Fleischer: The President believes that in this nation we are all in our economy together. I'm reminded of the old adage that you can't be for employees if you are against employers. The President knows that to keep our economy strong, to make sure that the American people have jobs and high paying jobs, we need to work together in a balanced approach that protects consumers, that protects workers, and helps business.

Mokhiber: Ari, did you see the lead editorial in USA Today this morning?

Fleischer: Do you really want to make me answer that question on the record?

Mokhiber: It's titled "More Public Drilling? Let's Collect Bills First." It says that the President has recommended more public drilling on public lands, but there is a history of these big oil companies not paying the royalties. So, over the past couple of years Shell Oil has paid $110 million in penalties – these are penalties – Chevron $95 million, ExxonMobil $52 million.

The editorial says "let's collect from the oil companies before we open up to more drilling."

Does the President agree?

Fleischer: The President is working on the development of the national energy policy, He has directed a cabinet level review to be chaired by Vice President Cheney as you know. And they are taking a look at how best to develop America's energy resources, to promote conservation, to take the steps necessary to secure America's supply of energy, particularly as we head into the travel season over the summer.

Mokhiber: What about the oil companies ripping off the government?

(Fleischer goes to another question)

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