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Bush finds out about $4 gas forecasts

President says best way to help consumers cope is to make his tax cuts permanent.

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Bush, saying he was unaware of predictions of $4-a-gallon gasoline in the coming months, told reporters Thursday that the best way to help Americans fend off high prices is for Congress to make his first-term tax cuts permanent.

"If you're out there wondering... what your life is going to be like, and you're looking at $4 a gallon, that's uncertain," Bush responded to a question posed at a White House news conference. "And when you couple that with the idea that... taxes may be going up in a couple years, that's double uncertainty."

Analysts have said that gasoline could reach $4 a gallon by this spring, due to strong demand and a change in formulation, among other reasons.

When taking the question about the $4 milestone, Bush told the reporter, "That's interesting. I hadn't heard that."

In other areas of energy policy, the president repeated his support for both renewable sources and conservation.

Bush also criticized Congress, which is considering an $18 billion tax increase for large oil companies.

"All that's going to do is make the price even higher," he said. "We ought to be encouraging investment in oil and gas close to home if we're trying to mitigate the problems we face."

The House of Representatives passed the oil tax bill Wednesday, and Senate Democrats said they would try to push the bill through quickly to avoid a Republican filibuster. If the bill passes, the White House has threatened to veto.

Bush told reporters that in order for the use of renewable sources of energy - such as corn- and switchgrass-based ethanol - to become widespread, the country needs to increase domestic oil production and build new refineries. To top of page

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