Two unrelated problems can be reduced to a model of a Bose gas interacting with a gauge field: (i) the effect of thermal fluctuations on a system of vortices in bulk superconductors in fields Hc1HHc2, and (ii) charged, spinless excitations in two-dimensional (2D) strongly correlated electron systems. Both problems are important for the theory of high-temperature superconductors. We study this model in three regimes: at finite temperatures, assuming that the gauge field is purely transverse; at T=0, for the purely static (2D Coulomb) interaction; and at T=0, for a weak Coulomb interaction and a strong transverse one. Transverse interactions suppress the temperature of the superfluid transition significantly. A sufficiently strong transvese interaction is shown to produce a phase separation as the temperature decreases (in the absence of Coulomb repulsion). If there is Coulomb repulsion, the ground state does not have off-diagonal long-range order but the superfluid density is not zero unless the Coulomb constant exceeds a critical value. Sufficiently strong coupling to the transverse field destroys superfluidity as well. In the normal state formed at large couplings, the translational invariance is intact. We propose a bosonic ground state that is not superfluid at T=0. We discuss the implications of these results both for vortex liquids and strongly correlated electron systems.