Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama. Excerpts from the interview will air throughout CNBC's Business Day programming today, Tuesday, June 10th. The full interview will on tonight's live CNBC Special, "Your Money, Your Vote: McCain vs. Obama," at 8PM ET.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
JOHN HARWOOD reporting: Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
Senator BARACK OBAMA: Thank you.
HARWOOD: As you know, gas prices now have hit a national average of over $4 a gallon. You have criticized the idea that John McCain has floated of a gas tax holiday as a gimmick. Is the reality of the situation for American consumers that there's nothing that you could do as president or anybody could do as president in the short term to relieve that pain?
Sen. OBAMA: What is true is that given the global price of oil right now, that we can't artificially lower gas prices. What we can do is provide people immediate relief through our tax code. And so I've proposed accelerating a second stimulus rebate to put hundreds of dollars into the pockets of families to offset some of these rising costs during the summer and into the fall. When I'm president next year, what I'd like to do is pass a middle class tax cut, $1,000 per family per year to offset higher prices in gas, food, medical care. Long-term, though, the only way we're going to deal with these high gas prices is if we change how we consume oil. And that means investing in alternative fuels, it means that we are raising fuel efficiency standards on cars, that we're helping the automakers retool. Obviously, consumers are changing their habits pretty rapidly. But our US automakers are going to need some help retooling. We should be encouraging that. And when we look at other ways that we're using energy, we have to adapt renewable, clear energies like solar, wind and biodiesel. And I've got an Apollo project, a Manhattan project, to embark upon that new energy future that we need.
HARWOOD: As difficult as this is for consumers right now, is, in fact, high gas prices what we need to let the market work, a line incentive so that we do shift to alternative means of energy?
Sen. OBAMA: Well, I think that we have been slow to move in a better direction when it comes to energy usage. And the president, frankly, hasn't had an energy policy. And as a consequence, we've been consuming energy as if it's infinite. We now know that our demand is badly outstripping supply with China and India growing as rapidly as they are. So...
HARWOOD: So could these high prices help us?
Sen. OBAMA: I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment. The fact that this is such a shock to American pocketbooks is not a good thing. But if we take some steps right now to help people make the adjustment, first of all by putting more money into their pockets, but also by encouraging the market to adapt to these new circumstances more quickly, particularly US automakers, then I think ultimately, we can come out of this stronger and have a more efficient energy policy than we do right now.