Gas? Expensive?

(CBS)
Peter Maer is a White House correspondent for CBS News.
Comments by President Bush today raised questions about his level of awareness of what Americans are paying for gasoline and where prices could be headed. During a photo opportunity with his economic advisors, Mr. Bush mentioned gasoline costs as he made the case for permanent tax cuts.

He told reporters, "If you're worried about $3 gasoline and you think your taxes may be going up in two years, then the uncertain price of gasoline creates more uncertainty as you plan for your future."

It was unclear whether Mr. Bush was referring to concerns about current or future prices. Press Secretary Dana Perino insisted the president is "fully aware of $3 and up gas."

In many parts of the country, the price at the pump has been more than $3 a gallon for days. AAA and the Oil Price Information Service report nationwide gas prices average just over $3.15 a gallon.

Responding to this reporter's questions at a White House news conference today, Mr. Bush said he had not heard about analysts' predictions of the potential for $4-a-gallon gas later this spring when refiners re-formulate fuel blends for summer driving.

Spokeswoman Perino told CBS News, "Four-dollar gas is still a prediction by some people but not necessarily the forecast of his (the president's) advisors." She said, "As you know we've seen the prediction of $4 gas several years in a row and of course it's a concern, but the president is most concerned about the current price already being what he considers to be too high."

The energy experts and the Bush advisors were behind the curve, at least on high prices in one part of the country. CBS News affiliate KCBS in San Francisco reports regular is selling for $4.23 at a San Mateo, Calif., service station where premium goes for $4.43.
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    Peter Maer is a CBS News White House Correspondent.

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