Michele Bachmann had to have the most interesting campaign promise of any of the Republican candidates to date: The same woman who has never passed a single bill in her tenure in congress is telling audiences that President Bachmann will make sure Americans are paying less than $2 per gallon for gasoline.
“Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again,” Bachmann told a crowd Tuesday in South Carolina. “That will happen.” “The day that the president became president gasoline was $1.79 a gallon,” Bachmann said. “Look what it is today.”[..]
Let’s first take a look at the basic claim. I have seen many people repeat her claim that gasoline was $1.79 per gallon when Obama took office, but I haven’t seen anyone fact check it. So I went to the EIA statistics, and found that the week before Obama took office (his inauguration was on Tuesday, January 20, 2009), overall retail gasoline averaged $1.90 per gallon. The week of his inauguration retail gasoline averaged $1.89 per gallon. So, there was some slight context possibly needed to qualify the $1.79 per gallon remark (probably somewhere gasoline averaged that price) but the general claim is basically correct: Prices were much lower when Obama took office, and now the current price of gasoline is $3.66 per gallon.
Just for fun — and before we examine the claim in more detail — I decided to check and see what gas prices were when Bush took office. When he first took office on January 20, 2001, gasoline prices averaged $1.51 a gallon. At the beginning of his second term in 2005, gasoline prices averaged $1.90. When Bush left office, gasoline prices averaged $1.90. However, as we know gasoline prices were hardly stable in between. During Bush’s second term — in the summer of 2008 — gasoline ran up to over $4 per gallon. The price remained at that level for almost two months before a recession brought the economy crashing down — and gasoline prices along with it.
But most families don’t fill up for the entire year on a specific day, so a snapshot of prices on inauguration day isn’t really that meaningful. Let’s consider average annual gas prices over the past few years. Beginning in 2002, each subsequent year of Bush’s administration saw higher average annual gas prices than the previous year. For six years in a row — from 2003 through 2008 — gas prices rose. Prices crossed the $2 per gallon mark in 2004 and ultimately rose to an annual average of $3.30 per gallon in 2008, Bush’s last full year in office. And the only reason gasoline prices weren’t higher than $3.30 per gallon was due to the recession-induced price collapse in the price of oil in the second half of 2008.
Beyond the fundamental idiocy of the construct, how exactly does President Bachmann think she'll achieve this particular sparkle pony? By taking an "All Of The Above" approach to energy policy, naturally.
SCHIEFFER: Now congresswoman, I think that's a great idea. And I think everybody hopes that. But who would you propose to do that?
BACHMANN: Well, by embarking on an all of the above energy strategy. What the president has been doing is strangling the United States energy sector. The good news is, Bob, that many Americans still don't know is that the United States is the number one energy resource rich nation in the world. We have 25 percent of all the coal in the world. One of the largest natural gas finds, trillions of cubic feet of natural gas was recently discovered in Pennsylvania. And of course from ANWR, to the east Gulf region to the Atlantic, to the Pacific, to the Bakken oil fields, we also have billions of barrels of oil.
Um, huh? She does know that coal and natural gas doesn't really do much to the 18 million barrels of oil that the US consumes daily, doesn't she? And that Bakken oil field?
Certainly 3.65 billions barrels of recoverable oil is nothing to sneeze at, but a little perspective is in order. The U.S. currently imports an average of about 10 million barrels of oil per day (for a total of about 3.65 billion barrels of oil per year), so even if all the estimated undiscovered oil in the Bakken formation were extracted today, it would only be enough to wean the U.S. off of crude oil imports for one year.
But what's the biggest missing point that Professor Bachmann misses in her free market-deregulation-all of the above zeal? She could allow for the mining of every square inch of this country for every possible energy resource, leading to massive environmental destruction, birth defects and god knows what other horrors and NOT ONE SINGLE KILOWATT of energy would necessarily be for US consumption. All that oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico wasn't necessarily going to the US, but the open market where BP could get the highest price for it. And let's not cry any tears over the regulations BP had to suffer while oil permits were *temporarily* halted. Their stockholders certainly aren't. And what were those gas prices like then, Michele?
But hey, it's interesting that Bachmann's "All of the Above" approach doesn't include a single clean energy solution, like solar or wind power.