Bachmann Says She Can Get Gas Prices Below $2 a Gallon. Is She Planning Another Deep Recession?

In July, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann failed economics 101 by claiming at a campaign rally in South Carolina: “A dollar in 2011 should be the same as a dollar in 1911. A dollar should be worth a dollar.”

Bachmann is still skipping classes.  At another rally in South Carolina, the Minnesota Congresswoman appeared oblivious to the laws of global supply and demand by claiming she will get gasoline below $2 a gallon, presumably by opening up the U.S. to more oil drilling.

“The day that the president became president gasoline was $1.79 a gallon. Look at what it is today. Under President Bachmann, you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again. That will happen.”

Watch it:

I’ve heard this one before — during my fifth grade student council election: “If I’m elected, I promise to get the lunch lady to serve more french fries with every meal in the cafeteria.”

Her “Drill, Baby, Drill,” strategy can’t lower prices more than a few pennies in 2030, as discussed below.  But, there is another way, as Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, explained to the Chicago Tribune:

“We’re going to have to recognize the rest of the world has this increasing appetite for oil,“ he said. “If we go below $2 a gallon, it probably means there has been a lot of wealth loss and we are in a deflationary period.“

A lot of wealth loss and deflation —  that pretty much sums up what a Bachmann presidency would mean.  Here’s why.

The average price of gasoline is $3.60 cents today. Of course, getting gasoline below $2 is theoretically not impossible. But as Bachmann pointed out, the last time we saw those prices was in 2008, during one of the most severe global economic crises in history.  Actually, at that time, Bachmann actually tried to take credit for lowering gas prices, explaining that the “drill baby drill” approach was the reason. She failed to note that the deep recession had caused an historic drop in gasoline demand:

Bachmann loves to quote that $1.83 figure. She used it in March when she falsely claimed that the Obama Administration had only issued one permit for new oil drilling. In fact, the Obama Administration has issued dozens of new permits for shallow and deep-water drilling. PolitiFact rightly gave her a “Pants on Fire” lie rating for that claim.

As the below figures from the Energy Information Administration show, domestic oil production has increased substantially since Obama took office. But since the global economy picked back up and developing countries like China and Brazil are demanding more and more oil, global prices have been on the rise. Again, those pesky laws of supply and demand.

Unless Bachmann would like to bring us back into a recession, the idea that we can drop gasoline prices below $2 a gallon simply through more drilling just doesn’t hold weight. The EIA issued an analysis in 2009 that compared opening the entire Outer Continental Shelf to drilling with a more restricted approach. It found that by 2030, gasoline would only be 3 cents cheaper under an open-drilling scenario.

Peter Fox-Penner, an energy economist with the Brattle Group, explains to Climate Progress that the exact opposite policies would have more of an impact on prices:

Bachmann’s claim is highly unrealistic. To reduce demand, the most important policy is stronger car and truck fuel efficiency standards — precisely what the Obama Administration has been doing. Her options for increasing gasoline or gas substitute supplies either require her to convince OPEC and other others to do what they’ve never been willing to do, or to adopt government policies that expand gasoline substitutes — again Obama policies. The one thing all oil experts would agree on is that no President could reduce prices to these levels simply by attempting to increase U.S. oil production.

Never mind what the experts agree on. This is the Bachmann School of Economics — where a dollar in 2011 should be worth the same as in 1911, and the laws of global supply and demand don’t apply.


Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

The fact that Bachman would even propose such a proposition is ludicrous in every sense of the word. A single dollar had greater purchasing power in the year nineteen-eleven compared to what it can do for us in the immediate present. We must observe the three following factors: the national population has tremendously increased, individualized transportation is now the primary means of mobility for the average American, and the real world political/economic implications of the international community influence the consumption of black gold. Simply, the United States is not the only country in the world that consumes fossil fuels. In the twenty-first century, the consumer habits of the United States must learn how to cope with the energy (fossil fuel) demands of emerging industrialized powers.

As the national economies of the BRI…See More

11 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 1:36pm

Thomas R Burnsed Jr · Meansville, Georgia

Nice post Omar.
Do you have any thoughts on Thorium as a way forward for electricity production instead of coal and offsetting imported oil with liquefied coal synthetic fuels?
This would allow the USA to come close to cutting its Carbon emissions in half by no longer using fossil fuels for electricity production while at the same time saving the jobs in coal country and making it more politically palatable. Liquefaction plants would be job creators. They could be located on the same sites that coal fired power plants are today and take advantage of the rail lines that supply them. The same rail lines could haul away finished product. Perhaps existing EPA licenses could be amended for air quality. Putting a LFTR at existing power plant sites would provide process heat and generate electricity at the same time.

I can envision a fu…See More

2 · Like · Reply · August 20 at 12:29am

Mike Aday · Top Commenter · UT Arlington

But the sad thing is, people will simply take her, or anyone who opposes the president, at her/their word. They won’t bother to seek out the facts or listen to other experts.

9 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 12:24pm

Dick Stout · Rowlett, Texas

And it doesn’t seem to matter that she get’s pretty much anything and everything wrong.

7 · Like · Reply · August 18 at 1:52pm

John Poteet · Top Commenter · Chico, California

If you give them the facts they will flat deny them. They simply cannot imagine living without access to a car.

Like · Reply · August 18 at 2:07pm

Rakesh Malik · Top Commenter · Photographer/Owner at White Crane Photography

So long as she says things that they want to hear, they’ll continue to believe her. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

3 · Like · Reply · August 18 at 3:54pm

Peter S. Mizla · Top Commenter · Vernon, Connecticut

There are of course people out there who will buy this snake oil. I have learned to become less surprised by the number of stupid people in this country.

9 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 12:37pm

Thomas Bulfinch · Eldora New Providence High School

She also fails to take notice that barely 5 months before the $1.83 figure she likes to throw out, gasoline was selling for over $4 a gallon. Did we really “Drill Baby Drill” all those new oil wells, build all new refineries, and lay all the new delivery pipelines in 5 months?

6 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 7:13pm

Timothy Hughbanks · Top Commenter · Professor at Texas A&M University

“A dollar in 2011 should be the same as a dollar in 1911. A dollar should be worth a dollar.”.

This woman is just STUPID. What does that statement even mean? What should a 2011 Prius cost in 1911 dollars? How about a hip replacement or a laparoscopically performed appendectomy? An iPhone? Or even a house equipped with modern utilities? This is the same woman who read a news story about the Chinese discussing whether the world should abandon the dollar as its reserve currency and concluded that the Obama administration might force American citizens to abandon green dollar bills in favor of some atheist international currency. As a result she introduced a resolution to “bar the dollar from being replaced by any foreign currency.” I loved Matt Taibbi take on that: “Imagine Joe McCarthy dragging Cabinet members into hearings and demanding that they publicly disavow the works of Groucho Marx, and you get a rough idea of the general style of Bachmannian politics.”

5 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 6:18pm

Dionne Theirin · New York, New York

Word Prof. I honestly hope she is the frontrunner for the Rethugs. This way people will see her a joke and compare her outright to Palin.
I hate to say it, but Palin and Bachmann have set us women back… quite a bit.

Like · Reply · Sunday at 1:49am

Jon David Harris · Top Commenter · Drexel

You consider Bachmann to be a woman?

Like · Reply · Sunday at 12:19pm

John Poteet · Top Commenter · Chico, California

Sorry to say this but it’s not only Republicans that want to buy into this kind of delusional thinking. Have we heard from Obama or the Democratic Senate on stringent energy efficiency or climate change reforms? Crickets.

The U.S. myth that we can all just switch over to hybrids and keep motoring along is about to get hit in the head with a brick. We are far too inefficient and we aren’t replacing our motor vehicle fleet fast enough. Also, asphalt is now too expensive for many local governments to maintain or replace.

Buy a cargo bike. You’ll need it to get the last can of gas for your oil burner.

4 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 2:06pm

Geo Hernandez · Top Commenter · Los Angeles, California

Good advise.

Behold the car of the future:

1 · Like · Reply · August 19 at 10:09pm

Thomas R Burnsed Jr · Meansville, Georgia

I have some ideas, but for now, only the Amish are psychologically and logistically prepared.

Like · Reply · August 20 at 12:39am

Thomas R Burnsed Jr · Meansville, Georgia

That Rhodes car has the same problem as our budget, too many riding and not enough helping pedal.

1 · Like · Reply · August 20 at 12:47am

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Wesley Rolley · Top Commenter · Northwestern University

It is obvious that Bachmann does not care, as long as she hits a hot button… everyone loves cheaper gas, right? Policy by focus group and be careful who you invite to participate.

The other thing to consider is that none of this stuff which we think so telling really sticks to these teflon draped pols. If a reporter asks them about it, then the reporter doesn’t get any more interviews. It is all about controlling the message and Bachmann is good at that.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 12:22pm

Kyle Vester · Top Commenter · Graduate Research Assistant at Purdue University

I think it’s more she’s just ignorant of how much of the world actually operates. And I think it’s willful. I believe she actually believes what she says. But her views come out of her religion, which doesn’t really work when it comes to world economies and much of our government.

She clearly doesn’t understand that there is a difference between macro and micro economics as she continually compares family finances to government finances. She clearly doesn’t understand that freedom of religion means people are allowed to believe in gods she doesn’t and that Christianity doesn’t get to make all the rules. She doesn’t understand freedom and playing nice with people who have different views.

She lives in a land of absolutism and is scared by relativism, thus her answer is to institute her absolutism on everyone else.

10 · Like · Reply · August 18 at 1:21pm

Nancy Mahlen

Man, what is wrong with our country that we pay the slightest bit of attention to ‘candidates’ that are simply clueless? I just don’t get it.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 3:28pm

Nancy Mahlen

And the ‘attention’ referenced above is to her followers and the lazy media.

2 · Like · Reply · August 19 at 3:54pm

“Miss W yet? HELL NO”

Bachman for president. She makes W look positively BRILLIANT.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 5:32pm

Bonnie Coventry

Either a deep recession or enormous oil subsidies

Like · Reply · August 19 at 6:28pm

Marc Levy · PCO

No. My iguana makes W look mildly intelligent. Bachman failed the IQ test cause she couldnt spell IQ.

2 · Like · Reply · August 19 at 7:04pm

Jon David Harris · Top Commenter · Drexel

Bachman could be the stupidest politician of this decade as was Bush in the prior decade.

2 · Like · Reply · Sunday at 12:21pm

Keturah Robinson · Capitol University

I keep waiting on politicians say they want to abolish congress and their jobs. Get rid of the IRS–really, who would collect tthe money to pay her salary. Of course their is always outsourcing. We could have the checks for congresspeople printed in China or Malaysia, Hum, we maybe doing that now. We oursourced much of the work done by Americans who worked for the IRS. At one time, tax returns were processed overseas somewhere.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 20 at 11:28am

Jon David Harris · Top Commenter · Drexel

Beautiful, next lets outsource police and have them enforce the law while overseas. I’m sure they’ll find a way to make it happen.

Like · Reply · Sunday at 12:22pm

Celeste Kent · Top Commenter · Willamette University

I remember when I could buy gas at 17 cents a gallon so what, would we all like to get that back again? Well sorry but it is not coming back and there is nothing at all that a “president” Bachmann could do to bring it back. However she certainly got lots of attention by saying that didn’t she?

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 7:30pm

Rocco Cuteri

Anyone who believes this witch (sorry, that was Christine O’Donnell), I have some ocean front land in Arizona I’ll sell you.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 20 at 2:45pm

Sean Prophet · Creative Director at Spring Media Group

Oil is over, and Bachmann is delusional.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 12:26pm

Cathleen Mann

anything to stay in the media attention — she’ll never be the candidate, just a tea party darling…

2 · Like · Reply · August 19 at 1:47pm

Geo Hernandez · Top Commenter · Los Angeles, California

“Bachmann is <strike>delusional.</strike>. . . psychotic”

1 · Like · Reply · August 19 at 10:12pm

Reda StCyr · Postmaster at USPS Retired

Bachmann is in Congress now Congress holds the keys to the vault an all the money spent an who can spend it She an her party have the power now to bring gas prices down to $2 even more then she would ever be able to do when she is POTUS.
We have to get the guts to call these people what they are because I sure as hell will.
They are simply LIARS!

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · Sunday at 1:47pm

James Lupton · University of Michigan

A deep recession or in her case I think it would be a depression.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 11:30am

Mark David Oliver

Perhaps she is thinking of invading Saudi Arabia.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 10:33am

  • hapamoku (signed in using Yahoo)

i think she’s “thinking” her supporters are pretty stupid.

3 · Like · Reply · August 18 at 11:02am

James Hwang · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

She’s not thinking period.

2 · Like · Reply · August 18 at 11:12am

Debbie Kiesel-Ryan


1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 10:20pm

Colleen Brennan · Pitt

Are people really buying her %#^??? God help ud all!!!

1 · Like · Reply · August 18 at 11:44pm

Meg Owens

She can also get a loaf a bread down to a nickel and we can all walk uphill both ways to a school/work that doesn’t have plumbing or electric – just like 1911!

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 20 at 3:37pm

Meg Owens

^ That would be “loaf OF bread” not “loafabread”… not to be confused with a SOFAbed, that’s another post entirely.

Like · Reply · August 20 at 3:39pm

Gabe Csikos · Lakewood, Ohio

Don’t eat the bread at the futon store. That’s all I’m saying.

1 · Like · Reply · August 20 at 4:27pm

Meg Owens

You should’ve mentioned that earlier, Gabe! Sheesh

Like · Reply · August 20 at 10:03pm

Colleen Brennan · Pitt

Can’t believe that people are buying her @&%#&)(!

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 11:43pm

Cheryl Daubenspeck Keenan · Minnesota

she will tell any lie she can get away with

Like · Reply · August 19 at 12:43am

Joe Mastermonico · Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

they bought obama’s. why not one liar for another

Like · Reply · August 19 at 6:45am

David Stockbridge Smith · Top Commenter · Apex, North Carolina

Or a dramatic increase in subsidies to the oul industry.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 10:58am

James Lupton · University of Michigan

I’d have to be so dramatic as to make the industries government owned. So Michelle Bachmann is going to socialize the gasoline business!?

2 · Like · Reply · August 18 at 11:30am

Mandy Henk · Top Commenter · Access Services Librarian at DePuaw University

That would hilariously awesome. Surely, she’d fall into some sort of irony vortex and never be heard from again.

3 · Like · Reply · August 18 at 12:24pm

Miles Lunn · Simon Fraser

Isn’t that somewhat hypocritical for someone on the right to begin with. After all gas prices are determined by supply and demand in the market and so this is not actually a right wing idea, but rather a very socialistic idea as socialism favours price controls and messing with the prices in the market. Off course she could bring the gas tax to 0% but that would only partially work.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · Sunday at 12:28pm

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

Who doesn’t know that politicians try to reflect people’s emotions, and use simple imagery? Michelle Bachmann’s anti-inflationary gripe using the images of a 1911 dollar or $2 gas, or Rick Perry’s categorical no [new] regulations, are primarily vehicles for expressing attitudes that they hope appeal to their audiences.
I deeply appreciate the solid thinker-reactions here at Climate Progress, but it is just as important to notice mood as well as content in politics. Those politicians were making Feeling statements, trying to echo sentiments in their audience. This isn’t literally about $2 gas or no regulations, it’s about something else.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 5:07pm

Mark Kendrick · Top Commenter · Works at Self employed

Every day on the campaign trail, Bachmann’s open mouth proves she is unqualified to even be a state representative from MN, much less a presidential candidate. In fact, she’s not qualified to teach kindergarteners, with the abject poverty of information about history, reality, or even Christianity, that she spews daily.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 12:31pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Bonkers. Can you trust someone like this?

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 2:24pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

“there was one résumé item that was missing: a Ph.D. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Bachmann traveled the state as an education activist, she went by “Dr. Michele Bachmann,” even though she had never obtained nor sought the advanced degree that’s a prerequisite for the title.

2 · Like · Reply · August 18 at 2:24pm

Sustainable development and much more

What if she took the problem backward? By decreasing the necessary amount of gasoline to drive a mile or a 100 miles? (ie. increasing fuel efficiency significantly).

this way it would look like gasoline is $2 a gallon…

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 3:35pm

Frank A Vandivier · 12 Step Recovery Advocate, Forman, and ACT test Proctor at Self Employed and Loving It!

We start closing Government Agencies, etc. That may help us all go “bat poop crazy!”

Like · Reply · Subscribe · Sunday at 1:04am

Nicole Alicia Sharp · Executive Vice President at Young Democrats of Maryland LGBT Caucus

“!guano loco!” lolz

Like · Reply · Sunday at 2:31am

Paul J Smith · Southampton


Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 1:13pm

Bill Forrester · Southborough High School

I wouldn’t mind if we could get it for $2 a litre!

1 · Like · Reply · August 19 at 4:07pm

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