When Minnesota’s lone remaining presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann, proclaimed again that if elected she would return gasoline prices to under $2 a gallon, most folks probably scoffed. Fellow Republican Jon Huntsman, for example, dismissed Bachmann’s vow as “completely unrealistic” and “not founded in reality.”
A more deeply analyzed, and scarier, reaction came from the Economist, that rock-ribbed British journal of reporting and commentary through the lens of the dismal science. Its Washington-based blogger, R.A., noted that the last time gas dipped below $2 — as Bachmann said, “the day that the president became president” in early 2009 — the world was in the throes of a financial meltdown that collapsed demand for oil.
A slowly strengthening economy since then has lifted pump prices nearly to $4. Bachmann’s supporters assume that she’d deliver on her promise by pumping up U.S. oil production with less environmental regulation. In the wake of the so quickly forgotten Gulf of Mexico oil spill, that’s scary enough, although any real effect on prices from such policy changes would likely take decades to be realized, long after the next president’s time in office.
But R.A. also reminds us that Bachmann remains an outspoken opponent of raising the federal debt ceiling — a misbegotten policy stance that “would have produced an immediate cut in government spending of 44 percent, leading to a larger output decline than was observed in 2008.”
So Bachmann has more in her tool kit than meets most eyes. “Personally,” R.A. concluded, “I have total confidence that Ms. Bachmann can bring back cheap petroleum, one way or another.”