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Posted at 02:21 PM ET, 08/18/2011

Michele Bachmann’s bizarre gas-price fiction


It's no wonder Michele Bachmann likes the free market so much. She can bend supply and demand to her will.

How else to explain her bizarre claim to a South Carolina crowd, first reported by Politico yesterday, that: “Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again”?

Usually, politicians manifest their dishonesty on gas prices as mere hints, implications or vague predictions about being able to bring down gas prices, and they are sensible enough not to say by exactly how much. This is because none of them can really determine the world market price of oil, a commodity that every country demands in bulk and that America doesn’t control. Bachmann not only promised to drop gas prices below $2 a gallon — “that will happen,” she said — she also didn’t try to explain how she would do it.

But — wait! — Bachmann has a fact that apparently makes her case: “The day that the president became president gasoline was $1.79 a gallon. Look what it is today.”

President Obama also took office amid a massive global economic shock that reduced demand for oil across the world. Prices — and carbon emissions — were down because people were burning less fossil fuel, not because of some brilliant Bush-era low-gas-price policy, unless you consider “entering a punishing global recession” to be a policy.

Ironically, many of the policies that would, over many years, reduce Americans’ exposure to the vagaries of the oil market are just the sort that Bachmann would attack as more centralized federal planning of the economy. The fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks that Obama recently announced will require vehicles to burn less gas per mile with better technology. A higher national gas tax would even more efficiently encourage this technological development and discourage unnecessary driving.

Bachmann, of course, probably expects that the looser domestic drilling regulation she favors would dramatically reduce gas prices. Which is wrong. The Energy Information in 2009 estimated that flinging open America’s continental shelf — where so much of America’s oil is — would only drop gas prices by a few cents by 2030. Or maybe, as The Economist speculates , she would refuse to raise the debt ceiling, thereby causing an economic contraction that would reduce oil demand, just like in 2008.

Or maybe Bachmann really does think that there is a button in the Oval Office labeled “drop the oil price” that Obama has been refusing to push for the last two years, because Al Gore has promised the president a cut of the trillions he will steal from taxpayers to build his wind farms, or something. It makes almost as much sense as whatever she actually believes.

By  |  02:21 PM ET, 08/18/2011

 
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