8 Questions for Michele Bachmann

8 Questions for Michele Bachmann

Bachmann is criticizing the front-runners in the hopes of getting more attention. Here are some questions she could be asked at Tuesday’s debate in Las Vegas.


The presidential campaign of Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is struggling. She burst into the race with a strong performance in the June 13 debate, where she announced her candidacy. She quickly surged in polls, rising to second to Mitt Romney nationally and in a virtual tie with Romney in Iowa. But since Texas Governor Rick Perry joined the race in August, Bachmann has been on the wane. As Perry’s bubble has deflated, conservatives have flocked on Herman Cain instead of back to her. In more recent polls she has sunk to sixth, behind not only Romney, Perry and Cain, but even Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. At the Values Voter Summit straw poll, a gathering of social conservatives who she will need to form her base in any winning coalition, she finished in a tie for fourth place with Perry, garnering only 8 percent.

Bachmann has been fighting to get attention, having gotten less airtime and applause in the last two debates and dealing with the perception that the Republican primary is a two person race between Perry and Mitt Romney. If it’s attention Bachmann wants, there are certainly plenty of questions worth asking her. And while she is unlikely to overtake Perry and Romney, it is hardly impossible. She also could be on the short list for vice-presidential nominees, especially if Romney wins the primaries and wants to enthuse the conservative base. So here are eight questions for Bachmann that debate moderators Tuesday night and other journalists with the opportunity to interview her should ask. 

§ You’ve promised to lower the price of gasoline to $2 per gallon. How exactly will do you that? The United States has only 1.5 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, but it consumes 22 percent of the world’s oil annually. It takes a new oil well several years to bring gasoline to the market. So how would increased drilling achieve your price target during your first term? Are you proposing to nationalize our gas resources and oil companies? If not, how do you force gas companies to give their gasoline to Americans at a lower price than the global equilibrium price between supply and demand?

§ You’ve proposed to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. What about the laws it enforces? Are you proposing to repeal the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act? If not, how would you enforce them?

§ At the Fox News debate in September you promised to pass “the mother of all repeal laws” on federal education policy and to abolish the Department of Education. Is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act one of the federal education laws you would repeal? If so, would you do anything to ensure that children with disabilities are educated in public schools? If not, who would enforce the law?

§ At the Values Voter Summit you said, “There’s a few other [cabinet departments] that are also going to get their lights off.” Which departments are you talking about, and why would you close them? Don’t you think that if you ask people to vote for you for president, they should know precisely which cabinet agencies you would eliminate and who would perform their functions?   

§ In the June 13 debate you said that states have the right to set their own gay marriage laws and that you wouldn’t intervene to prevent a state that wants to legalize gay marriage. But then you added that you support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Don’t these two positions blatantly contradict each other? How can you claim to support states’ rights while also proposing to prevent states from setting their own marriage policies?

§ You said in September, “I firmly believe the President of the United States has weakened us militarily and put us more at risk than any time.” How can you claim that, when President Obama has been far more successful at executing terrorists than President Bush was? How exactly do you propose to balance the budget without cutting defense spending or raising taxes? How can you claim to be a fiscal conservative when you think we should spend more than $700 billion per year on defense?

§ You recently wrote in an e-mail to your supporters “Government health mandates of any kind at the state or federal level are unconstitutional.” Where exactly in the Constitution do you find a prohibition on states’ mandating that individuals purchase health insurance? Do you think state requirements that you own car insurance are also unconstitutional? How exactly does this comport with your professed affinity for states’ rights and the Tenth Amendment? Clearly, you think the Massachusetts healthcare reform is unconstitutional. What other current state or federal laws do you find unconstitutional under the same reasoning? Do you agree with Rick Perry that Social Security is unconstitutional?

You’ve said, “The Lord says be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.” You said that you went into tax law because your husband told you to. So as president will you submit to your husband and follow his instructions in your career? What if he told you to invade Syria or Iran? Please note that saying “submission means respect” as you did at a debate is not an answer. Everyone should respect their spouse; the question is whether you still follow your husband’s instructions in making professional decisions, as you apparently did when you became an attorney for the IRS.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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