I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown - in this case a $20 billion shakedown ~ Joe Barton, Republican Congressman from TX and oil industry whore, apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward during a House hearing on 6/17/2010.
But if I was the head of BP, I would let the signal get out there - We're not going to be chumps, and we're not going to be fleeced ~ Michele Bachmann, Republican Congresswoman from MN and certified crazy person, speaking at a Heritage Foundation luncheon on 6/15/2010.
In my previous post I predicted that BP will not bear the entire cost of cleaning up the gulf, regardless of what Ken Salizar or Randal Paul think. I stand by this prediction, despite the fact that President Obama recently obtained a commitment from Tony Hayward for a 20 Billion dollar escrow account (administered by a 3rd party) "to cover the costs of cleaning up the spill and paying damages to individuals and businesses". This is a lot more than what I was expecting BP to be willing to be willing to shell out, and admit that it is good start - but it is still significantly lower than what the total price tag may end up being.
A 6/16/2010 MSNBC Business article notes, "Oil industry experts say it remains to be seen whether any amount of money can fully compensate victims and restore the Gulf Coast". Business Insider reports that, "Federal deficit spending will certainly rise by tens, and maybe hundreds, of billions as emergency appropriations are directed at larger and larger efforts to clean up this mess. At the same time, federal and state revenues tied to Gulf-region businesses will fall". The article concludes, predicting, "A double-dip recession has been made more likely by this tragedy" (5/2/2010).
Although President Obama insists that 20 billion is not a cap, I seriously doubt BP is going to be willing to pay hundreds of billions. I think it much more likely that BP believes 20 billion IS a cap. Or that they won't have to pay much more than a few additional billion. I also wonder if BP was promised anything in return for their 20 billion. Possibilities that I can think of include leniency in the criminal investigation or calculation of EPA fines. Maybe President Obama secured the money by informing Mr. Hayward that BP would be allowed to keep their oil leases and US government contracts (instead of canceling them all and kicking BP out of the country).
My last post also included a quote from US Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue who said, in regards to paying for cleanup of the Gulf, "We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies". I interpreted this to mean that Mr. Donohue was talking about a taxpayer funded BP bailout. So did a lot of other websites, including the Huffington Post, which was the story I linked to. Now, like Boehner before him, Mr. Donohue has issued a "clarification" of his earlier statement. The morning after I published my previous post I received an email that looked strange, and wondered why would I be getting an email from this particular person. The reason became clearer when I opened the email and read the following...
|My name is Bryan Goettel and I work in the media relations department at the US Chamber of Commerce. I see you've been dedicating a lot of coverage to the BP oil spill and wanted to make sure you saw Tom Donohue's recent statement issued on Friday, clarifying his comments that he made at a breakfast in late May.|
"Clarified" comments as follows...
|Tom Donohue: Let me be clear - the recovery costs should not be on the backs of American taxpayers or the businesses that have been adversely affected by this tragedy. As I stated at the breakfast, we believe that abandoning the rule of law and retroactively changing the liability cap is not the best approach. (U.S. Chamber Statement on BP Oil Spill Cleanup, 6/11/2010).|
I'm not buying Mr. Donohue's "clarification". Notice that he's still vehemently against lifting the liability cap. Meaning he doesn't think BP should pay the full cost of the "accident" caused by their reckless behavior. Although this time he adds that, oh no, he didn't mean taxpayers should pay either. I believe Mr. Donohue's first statement (the one where he was obviously suggesting that taxpayers pony up the dough), because his fellow Conservatives continue making similar BP butt kissing declarations.
Of course, SOMEBODY has to pay... likely those affected/the victims will end up paying quite a bit - as well as the taxpayers and future generations (when we borrow more money to pay for cleaning up after BP).
Texas Congressman Joe Barton apologized to BP's Tony Hayward for the White House "shakedown", branding the escrow account a "political slush fund". He later retracted his statement, but only because House Minority Leader John Boehner forced him to.
I agree with Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who, on the 6/17/2010 broadcast of the Rachel Maddow show, asserted, "What Joe Barton said, even though it does reflect what they really believe, was not a good thing to put out there" (which is why he really retracted his apology).
We know Representative Schwakowsky's belief is correct because Tom Price (R-GA) of the Republican Study Committee (a caucus of over 100 conservative House Republicans and part of the Republican leadership) is on record claiming, "BP's reported willingness to go along with the White House's new fund suggests that the Obama administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics".
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann believes that that BP is getting fleeced and being played for chumps, referring to the $20 billion escrow account as a "redistribution-of-wealth fund". And Rush Limbaugh suggested, instead of going to compensate BP's (human) victims (shrimpers, fishermen and others with legitimate claims whose livelihood BP has destroyed), the "slush fund" cash would instead be funneled to "union activists" or (the defunct) ACORN (The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/16/2010).
Even though the fund will be administered by the same individual who oversaw the "September 11 Victim Compensation Fund", Kenneth Feinberg, who was appointed to the position by bush administration Attorney General John Ashcroft. So, the bush administration trusted Mr. Feinberg to "administer all aspects of the program, including evaluating applications, determining appropriate compensation and disseminating awards", but now he's so completely corrupt that he'd stand by while people who had no legitimate claim received payoffs?!
These statements show how outraged Conservatives are that BP is being made to pay for even a fraction of the damages they have caused. Because Conservatives truly believe that the rich and powerful operate under a different set of rules than the "small people". Unfortunately it will be the "small people" who pay the larger portion of the final bill. This, in my opinion, amounts to a bailout; and that what this, along with the bush administration bailout of the financial sector proves - without a doubt - is that Conservatives love bailouts.
See also: Right-wing Media Absurdly Declares Obama Admin Acted In "Illegal", "Unconstitutional" Manner by "Forcing" BP to Create Escrow Account by Media Matters for America staff, 6/18/2010.