Friday, November 21st, 2014

Fact-checking Michele Bachmann's numbers

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during the Conservative Principles PAC Conference in Iowa.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during the Conservative Principles PAC Conference in Iowa.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., received "stole the show" reviews for her speech at the Conservative Principles PAC Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on March 26, 2011.

With a lineup of a handful of prospective Republican presidential candidates, Bachmann set herself apart with a slide show of numbers critical of the Obama administration.

Some of them we have checked before, such as Bachmann's claim that there was $105 billion "hidden in plain sight." to implement the health care law before it passed.

Bachmann also put up a slide showing the the top U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent, one of the highest in the world. This was a big issue in the 2008 presidential debates between John McCain and Barack Obama, who noted that the U.S.corporate tax code includes so many loopholes that the effective tax rate is actually very low. Check out our analysis of that issue here.

Bachmann also put up a slide with the number one.

"Let's look at the number one. Number one," Bachmann said. "That's the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office.

"Gee, maybe that has something to do with this next figure. Let's take a look, $1.83. That is the price that gasoline was the day before Barack Obama took office as president of the United States."

 "You cannot create jobs when you have a president that is unwilling to use American energy resources to solve our problems here in the United States," she said moments later.

Bachmann is right about the cost of gas on the day before Obama took office. To the extent that she suggests Obama's policies are responsible for the recent hike in gas prices, our colleagues at PolitiFact Georgia dealt with that issue when they checked a Twitter post  from U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.: "Just the Facts: Since President Obama took office, gas prices have gone up 67 percent."

But what about Bachmann's claim there has been just one oil drilling permit approved during the entire Obama presidency. We recalled that in a March 11, 2011, press conference, Obama said, "we’ve approved more than 35 new offshore drilling permits that meet these new safety and environmental standards." And he was talking only about permits issued after the Gulf of Mexico moratorium.

So somebody's got to be wrong.

We took a look at data from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or BOEMRE, which issues oil drilling permits. There's a lot of ways to slice the data, and you can see our full analysis here, But our conclusion was easy; Bachmann's figure wasn't even close. We rated her claim Pants on Fire.