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August 22, 2011

Bachmann’s $2 gasoline pledge

The Hill, August 22:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is doubling down on her vow to drive gasoline prices to less than $2 per gallon if she’s elected president, a pledge that 2012 GOP rival Jon Huntsman said isn’t rooted in the “real world.”

Bachmann drew attention last week when she pledged at a Tuesday campaign stop that “Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 per gallon again.”

It’s one thing to express confidence that gasoline prices would drop significantly (without naming a specific amount) under a Bachmann administration.  But to pledge that prices would fall below $2?

Gasoline prices are governed by three factors, mainly: supply, demand, and government regulation. 

A Bachmann administration could definitely affect supply by rolling back domestic drilling restrictions.  Of course, much of the increased supply would probably be snapped up immediately by the insatiable emerging economies of China and India, so it seems that the effect on global oil prices might end up being a wash, especially if OPEC decides to adjust its own production to keep prices steady.

Prices could be driven down by killing demand for oil, but I don’t think Bachmann has any intention of doing that.

She could also get gasoline prices moving in the right direction by decreasing the tax and regulatory burden on the oil and gas industry.  Good luck with that, because she’ll need the cooperation of a Congress that, regardless of which party is in control, will be driven by their perception of public opinion on environmental issues.  Again, there may be some downward movement in gasoline prices, but not enough.

The United States does not set oil prices, and it is horribly naïve for Rep. Bachmann to pledge that, simply on the strength of “’can-do’ America”, a global market will bend to her will.  Such a promise would be an albatross around her neck throughout her administration.  And no, the Democrat-controlled media would not let her forget it.

As I said the other day, I like Bachmann a lot, but it’s ill-considered statements like this that lead me to rank her lower than certain other GOP candidates.

Of course, this gaffe is light years away from suggesting that upon one’s election the “rise of the oceans” would begin to slow, but still…

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