Bill Richardson: Market Democrat

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Just saw New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the Democrats' dark horse 2008 candidate, speak at a New America Foundation event on energy efficiency. The theme of the speech wasn't surprising – Richardson wants to reduce American oil consumption by "6, 8, or even 10" million barrels of oil per day by 2020. He wants to do it without more drilling in the Arctic or the Gulf of Mexico. But his strategy for getting there was the use the presidency to set mandates and let markets – especially the energy industry – do the rest. "I'm a market-oriented Democrat. I want to set mandates and let the market respond." And this is a "bedrock principle that is not open to negotiation."

Three bits I liked: Richardson attacked Congress for whiffing on energy and transportation issues. "What happens every year? We get these pork-bloated highway bills that fund inefficient projects and don't solve our transportation problems." Also, a shocking lack of hysteria about the energy industry: "I know people love to hate the oil companies, but I want to invite them to become energy companies." And a knock at Jimmy Carter: "When I say 'we'll need to make some sacrifices," I'm not saying 'put on a sweater' or 'turn the heat down.'"

In a super-brief Q&A session, Richardson fielded a question about whether regulation was inherently anti-free market. I've uploaded his answer here as an MP3.