Friday, June 18, 2010


BP has agreed to escrow $20 billion for damages to residents and business owners of the gulf coast caused by their massive oil spill and Republicans don't like it one bit.

The impact of the BP oil spill can be felt all over the Gulf. But it's perhaps felt most by those who make their livings from the water now contaminated with gobs of thick crude.

One small example of the impact the oil spill is having on gulf coast residents is the community of Grand Isle, La., where two-thirds of the residents get their income from fishing the area waters. Many have done so for generations, but none can continue because of contamination caused by the BP oil spill.

To this town of 1,600 not being able to live off the Gulf is not just about economics and generations-old businesses closing forever, it is about loosing their history, culture and community. They stand to lose everything if BP does not immediately and fully compensate them for taking away their livelihoods!

But, Republicans apparently don't think BP has a responsibility to those whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the oil spill caused by the company's Deep Water Horizon drilling operation that blew out due to a reckless and negligent management trying to save a buck by short cutting safe drilling practices.

Video of Joe Barton apologizing,
& other Republicans defending BP
During opening testimony of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with BP's CEO Tony Hayward the committee's ranking Republican member from Texas, Rep. Joe Barton, told Hayward sitting at the witness table, "I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House" on Wednesday. Barton said the $20 billion fund that President Obama directed BP to establish to provide relief to the victims of the oil disaster was a "shakedown" and a "tragedy in the first proportion." Barton was referring to the agreement that President Barack Obama announced with BP for establishment of a $20 billion relief fund.

Rep. Barton called the $20 billion escrow fund BP agreed to set up to pay for oil spill damages a “slush fund” resulting from a “shakedown” by the White House.

Barton's comments are indicative of the mindset of many conservative Republicans that the government should not mandate that BP take responsibility, financially and otherwise, for their mess. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said that he shares Barton's concerns:
"I think it's good that there's going to be some money there, I don't know whether it's going to be enough money to pay all the claims. They should pay the legitimate claims. But the part that Representative Barton is expressing some concern about, that I share the concern, is this has really become a political issue for the President and he's trying to deal with it by showing how tough he's being against BP. The problem is BP's the only one who really is in control of shutting down this well, and he's trying to mitigate, I think, his own political problems."
A new survey from Public Policy Polling finds that Barton’s and Cornyn's fellow Texans are overwhelmingly siding with the President:
Texans think that Barack Obama’s right and Joe Barton’s wrong when it comes to BP’s responsibility for cleaning up the oil spill, and a plurality of voters in the state think Barton should lose his leadership post on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Only 18% of voters think that BP deserved the apology Barton sent its way last week to 65% who think it did not. Barton doesn’t even get much support from Republican voters on that front – only 23% of them say it was right to apologize to BP. With Democrats and independents the numbers are even lower at 17% and 12% respectively.
The poll also found that the “episode is having a negative impact on how Texas voters perceive Barton overall. Only 21% have a favorable opinion of him while 28% see him negatively.” Meanwhile, 64% of Texans think Obama was right to ask BP to compensate victims of the oil spill with only 27% opposed to that move.

Rand Paul saying it is un-American
for Obama to criticize BP

BP's Safety Record?
Rand Paul, the newly nominated Republican candidate for Senate from Kentucky and Tea Party favorite agrees with Barton. Paul has said, “What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP. I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.” While Paul has heard nothing about BP not paying claims, in fact, BP has paid less than 12 percent of claims submitted by people and businesses harmed by the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Paul's Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, replied, “Rand Paul apparently has a deeply held conviction that corporations should be allowed to do what they see fit without oversight or accountability.”

Echoing Rand Paul's position that sometimes accidents just happen, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has said the oil spill was an act of God.

Gov. Rick Perry defends BP saying the company has a stellar safety record.
Perry ignores that BP's drilling operation blew out because recklessly and negligently management was trying to saving a buck by short cutting safe drilling practices, and it's not the first time.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) vigorously attacked the $20 billion for Gulf Spill oil damages fund: "The president just called for creating a fund that would be administered by outsiders, which would be more of a redistribution-of-wealth fund," Bachmann said on Tuesday, also adding that BP should say, "We're not going to be chumps, and we're not going to be fleeced."

The Republican Study Committee, a group of 114 conservative Republican House members, released a statement Wednesday bashing the fund -- and seeming to criticize BP for accepting it. The group's chairman, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), said in a statement that while BP should be held responsible for damages, "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. These actions are emblematic of a politicization of our economy that has been borne out of this Administration's drive for greater power and control."

Rush Limbaugh said that the escrow fund would be a "slush fund," and wondered where the money would end up going: "Who's gonna get this money? Union activists? ACORN people? Who's gonna get this money. Let's keep a sharp eye on who Feinberg gives this money to. Because I'm telling you, this is just another bailout fund, called something else, and we'll see who gets it." Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout, Rush Limbaugh unleashed a conspiracy theory suggesting that liberal environmentalists intentionally blew up the rig in order to “head off more oil drilling.”

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) has also voiced criticism -- saying that forcing BP to pay the money now would cut into their profits, thus making it more difficult to pay more down the line. "If BP is the responsible party under the law, they're to pay for everything. I do worry that this idea of making them make a huge escrow fund is going to make it less likely that they'll pay for everything. They need their capital to drill wells. They need their capital to produce income. ... But this escrow bothers me that it's going to make them less able to pay us what they owe us. And that concerns me."

Also on Fox News, Stuart Varney and Sean Hannity speculated that the account would be used as a "political slush fund."

GOP Rep Trent Franks, is quoted in a Politico piece, apparently saying that Obama was "arrogant" in demanding the $20 billion escrow fund from BP:
"It's my opinion that Mr. Barton and Mr. Price's comments were more of a reaction to the arrogance in President Obama's speech, where he said he was going to 'inform' BP that they would set aside this separate compensation fund to be controlled by a third party," said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). "Under our laws and Constitution, the president does not possess the power or authority to make such an arrogant command to a private company."
Bill Randall, who’s running to be the GOP nominee for a congressional race in North Carolina and identifies with the Tea Party movement, echoing a common conservative talk radio meme, is saying that the federal government and BP worked together to intentionally blowout the oil well and leak oil. Randall said at a media conference on Tuesday. “Someone needs to be digging into that situation. Personally, and this is purely speculative on my part and not based on any fact, but personally I feel there is a possibility that there was some sort of collusion. I don’t know how or why, but in that situation, if you have someone from a company violating a safety process and the government signing off on it, excuse me, maybe they wanted it to leak.

More from conservative talking heads :
  • PAT BUCHANAN: “Barton made a very courageous statement in my judgment. … To have anyone stand up and even indirectly defend [BP] and say that they were a victim of a shakedown shows some political courage. ”
  • INGRAHAM: “I think Joe Barton, before he apologized, had a legitimate point.”
  • NAPOLITANO: “That is a classic shakedown. The threat to do something that you don’t have the authority to do. ”
  • KILMEADE: “One Congressman calling the BP compensation fund a ’shakedown,’ but does he have a point? ”
  • GINGRICH: “The president is directly engaged in extorting money from a company. ”

Vice President Joe Biden calls Congressman
Joe Barton's apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward
"incredibly insensitive" and "incredibly out of touch"

"Daily Show" - Jon Stewart on GOP Congressman
Joe Barton's apology to BP

"Daily Show" - Jon Stewart on the GOP's flip-flop
on Congressman Joe Barton's apology to BP

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