President-Elect Barack Obama thinks we have an oil addiction and he wants to do something about it. That something is developing a plan for energy independence. While that might have seemed easier to discuss when oil was at $147 a barrel, Obama thinks it’s even more important to talk about now, with oil hovering around $60. “It may be a little harder politically, but it’s more important,” Obama told 60 Minutes in his first post-election interview. Obama explained that our addiction to oil causes a mental transition from “shock to trance.” As oil and gas prices go up, it creates “a flurry of activity.” When the prices go back down, however, people seemingly forget, and “we act like it’s not important. And, as a consequence, we never make any progress.” He considers it an addiction and knows it needs to be broken. Our next top executive thinks now is the time to break it.
Along with energy independence, Obama also addressed the auto industry bailout, and GM’s situation in particular. Acknowledging that a complete collapse would be “a disaster in this kind of environment,” but he’s not in favor of handing the industry a blank check. He feels that discussions with the Detroit Three should be focused on figuring out what a sustainable U.S. auto industry will look like so that the bridge loans the government is offering lead to a definable goal rather than being open-ended. Unlike some critics, Obama doesn’t think the country would be better off if General Motors was allowed to go into bankruptcy. Unlike the situation with the airlines where they could restructure and reorganize and still operate during that process, GM could be cut off completely if it isn’t helped out, potentially preventing it from continuing on.
You can read the transcript of the complete interview and watch the video here.