June 21, 2010

The GOP Grovels to BP

There’s been more than enough media coverage of Joe Barton begging BP CEO Tony Hayward for the escrow fund that the White House asked BP to set up in order to pay claims and damages for the oil spill in the gulf to the families and businesses that have and will be affected by the magnitude of the catasrophe.

Normally I wouldn’t pile on, but it’s worth pointing out a couple of things:

First, even his own colleagues have told him to step down or resign (from ThinkProgress):

arlier this morning, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) called the $20 billion escrow fund BP agreed to set up yesterday to pay for oil spill damages a “slush fund” resulting from a “shakedown” by the White House. Though many conservatives agree with Barton, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) refused to endorse Barton’s position. Now, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) has called for Barton to step down as the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee because of his comments.

Even other Republicans are steering clear of this one, and they’re not stupid – they’re doing so for a reason.

This brings me to the second point: this isn’t a gaffe or just the blind, out of touch commentary of one politician – this is a peek behind the veil at the GOP’s internal policies and principles. They claim to be against government intervention in the markets, but only when it doesn’t benefit their friends. More importantly though, in this case, the GOP has the apologize and fight for their friends – the people with the money who put them in office.

The oil industry likely elected Barton, and he has no desire to be on record as one of the congressmen that dared to hold BP accountable for the massive oil spill still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, or accountable for the lives and livelihoods of the 11 people who died on the Deepwater Horizon, or the thousands of people in the Gulf States whose lives will be forever changed because of this.

So in this case, “accountability” is “government intrusion into the markets.” Follow? Put bluntly, the GOP simply doesn’t want to hold BP accountable because the oil industry is their friend – the same reason they have no desire to hold the energy (and specifically the oil) industry accountable for climate change, or press forward on rules that would decrease our dependency on fossil fuels entirely, even if the same old energy companies were the ones to lead the way into a sustainable energy future.

What perplexes me the most is that Barton is speaking as though he’s not a representative of the people – he’s behaving like he’s a representative of the oil industry on the inside, apologizing for the behavior of the people he’s supposed to be defending. The industry/regulator relationship is designed to be professionally and collegiately adversarial for a reason – because it’s clear that left unchecked, industry will roll over people, safety, society, and the world we live in so they can report profits to their shareholders, without regard for the people.

Congress and the regulatory system is supposed to be the people’s seat at the table – but when people like Barton (and by proxy, his friends in the Republican Party) sit in that seat, they’re perfectly content to count the pile of money in front of them and keep their mouths shut – even after something goes wrong and they need to be held accountable.

1 Comment »

  1. […] the taxpayer pay for the damage, is unacceptable on any front. However, even with Republicans like Joe Barton groveling to BP and unintentionally exposing the Republican pro-business and anti-American platform, none of them […]

    Pingback by Not So Humble dot net || Proud Member of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy » Obama Making BP Pay Is Good Government, and That’s Why Republicans Are Freaking Out — June 28, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

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