BP Hearing Video: GOP lamwaker apologizes to BP on Obama shakedown

This just in. GOP lawmaker Congressman Barton from Texas apologized to BP, at a hearing where BP is apologizing to Congress, and said that the $20 billion fund was pressured by Obama as a shakedown. Barton further says that such action is illegal and he himself would go to jail. Is this a right defense for the rule or law against an unlawful act by the President or a GOP political overreach with poor timing?

More: BP apology TV ad video here, BP flogging here.

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  • davidg

    I don’t understand the shakedown part of this. BP is going to have to pay for the damages it caused. It can face millions of lawsuits or try to coordinate the payout system into one tribunal. It may be doubtful that a single tribunal could handle the huge number of claims to be expected. But it is also certain that millions of lawsuits would create its own sort of chaos.

    The scale of the damage BP caused is unprecedented. The way the claims are resolved will be a challenge that will likely remain for decades.

  • Bennie

    Another big slush fund for Obama’s minions to dole out money to the states and districts that voted for him.

  • Anonymous

    Apparently that idiot Republican Leader John Boehner has said he doesn’t agree. We need a leader with a pair!

  • Bronch O’Humphrey

    So if I go into an Applebee’s, get seated by the host, order some food (it comes discounted!), and then proceed to throw up everywhere, break chairs and tables, and otherwise just destroy and damage (in some parts beyond repair) the restaurant, it would be a “shakedown” for the manager to ask me to pay for the cleanup? That’s what I thought.

    • valley p

      I think the objection is that Obama did not just ask…he told. As in pay up or I bring whatever power I can muster to make your company suffer.

      You see, when it comes to dealing with terrorists, other nations we don’t like or American union members, so called conservatives like tough, take no prisoners, “dead or alive,” make my day, water boarding Presidents. When it comes to dealing with foreign companies who foul American waters, they want a Little Lord Fauntleroy who asks meekly and settles for half. They seem to want the taxpayer on the hook for the damage private industry does, just like with the bank bailout.

      • davidg

        Don’t let your ideology interfere with what is plain to observe: everyone is expecting BP to pay for what it caused. Obama’s insistence that BP “shall pay” isn’t opposed by anyone, including BP. No leadership there from Obama. By now Obama should have been able to tell us more about how “the fund” he wants created is going to be administered. It has been a couple of months already since the problem began.

        Concerning your reference to the bank bailout (TARP), I kind of recall that you supported all the bailouts. Have I missed something?

      • Anonymous

        So what you are saying here is that it is ok for the president to take unilateral action and impose penalties without due process of law – but only when the perp is an oil corporation and not a terrorist?

  • Bob Tiernan

    *valley p:*

    When it comes to dealing with foreign companies who foul American waters, they want a Little Lord Fauntleroy who asks meekly and settles for half. They seem to want the taxpayer on the hook for the damage private industry does, just like with the bank bailout.

    *Bob T:*

    No – that’s just the lefty talking point spin on what Barton said.

    Barton did not say that BP should be off the hook for any amount, but did say
    that the rule of law should be followed and that the US gov’t should not be
    allowed to make up rules and give itself extra powers as it goes along.

    Apparently you disagree, and believe that the government should be allowed
    to do whatever it wants to do if it thinks PR is on its side. That’s dangerous.
    But then, you were never consistent on this, or anything else.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Is it a shakedown?

    Of course.

    This should be adjudicated in court. Anytime you accuse Obama of anything the left will rant and rave that you are convicting him without a trial. It’s pretty much a reflex response on their part.

    Here however, they approve of the president simply pulling a number out of his head and demanding cash, with no accounting of where the money will go.

    The other part of this is the out of work oil workers. Thats what part of this shakedown money is for.

    That part Obama owns and that should not be forgotten.

    The oil workers on the BP platform? That’s BP’s fault, both the dead and the unemployed. The oil workers due to Obama’s ill conceived moritorium? That’s Obamas fault.

    Will liberals hold Obama accountable for those workers now unemployed due to his silly moratorium? No, of course not. Liberals never hold Obama accountable for anything.

    No one, not even congressman Barton is suggesting BP not pay for the damage it has caused. However that damage should be assessed in a legal fashion, not Obama’s “gimme some money” approach. In addition, BP should pay for their mistakes, not Obama’s.

    Obama put those oil workers beyond the BP platform out of work, and he alone bears the blame for that. He also bears responsibility for the completely uncoordinated response that makes Bush during Katrina look like a Swiss watch of precision.

    We are incurring additional damage due to the non coordination in the gulf. Oil skimmers and other damage control equipment sit idle while idiocy like whether accordance with the Jones act is being upheld, or a skimmer barge should have this many or that many fire extinguishers. It’s pathetic.

    Will liberals hold Obama accountable for that lack of coordination with the same vigor everyone, even congressman Barton, agrees BP should be held? Not on your life.

    For some reason liberals seemed to think that BP not having an instant fix for capping a pipe a mile below the surface was inexcusable. Yet on the Federal side, the Coast Guard, the EPA and others have zero coordination on the response. Liberals had massive problems with such lack of coordination during Katrina and were outraged. Of course now, they have no outrage and excuse it all.

    Liberals will excuse Obama of just about anything, and that is how one knows they view the disaster first as a political opportunity and second as an environmental catastrophe.

    Thankfully the rest of the country is less concerned with the political opportunity than liberals tend to be. Thus Obamas rapidly falling poll numbers.

    America wants this spill cleaned up and damages assessed in a legal and just fashion. What they do not want done is to have this spill turned into a political football so as to endanger our oil supply. Obama clearly does not understand this. The countries lack of faith in his handling of the spill attests to that.

    • davidg

      I am not so sure the payouts should be handled in the existing US legal system. The trial lawyers association is certainly awestruck by that possibility. At their current contingency fee rates, that would mean approximately 33% of $20B, or $6-7B going into their pockets. That could finance a lot of private yachts!

      If there is to be an alternate forum to resolve these claims, it would mean Congress would have to create it. It would also mean that Obama and the Congress would have to think of how to do it. Obama gave us no clue that he has even thought of the problem. If such a forum is created, does it preempt all other legal claims? Would there be any limit on attorney fees? How can anything be structured that gets money to those who deserve it, yet satisfies the trial lawyers?

      I think the spill will be Obama’s Katrina, but for a different reason. Bush was blamed for inadequate response to the crisis. Obama will deservedly get the blame for inadequately structuring the payout of claims. For him, that will be a political disaster. For the reasons you say, he will never be blamed for the response disaster.

    • valley p

      Davidg: “everyone is expecting BP to pay for what it caused”

      Correction David. Everyone SAYS they are expecting this, including BP. But history shows that large companies, particularly oil companies, find ways to stall the payments, put up roadblocks, and litigate the claims downwards. In case you were not paying attention, the Supreme Court conservatives lowered the amount Exxon had to pay based on a lower court decision, and this was 20 years after the event. Putting money immediately into escrow and taking the claims process out of the hands of BP is a huge step. And since BP agreed to it, why are ‘conservatives” complaining on their behalf? Let them do their own complaining. They are big boys and know how to negotiate.

      “I kind of recall that you supported all the bailouts. ”

      You are correct, I did. But I also support making the industry that caused the problem pay for the problem. In the case of the financial bailouts, I support making them set aside money to cover remaining costs of the bailout plus funds to pay for the next time this happens. In the case of the auto industry, we have taken stock ownership and may get our money back that way. In the case of AIG, Fannie, and Freddie, I doubt they will ever recover enough to be able to pay back the bailouts. Lesson that should be learned: get serious about financial regulation. That industry can’t be trusted with America’s economy.

      Bob T writes: “the US gov’t should not be allowed to make up rules and give itself extra powers as it goes along.”

      I agree. But there is no evidence that is what happened. Presumably Obama said you will do this or we will do the following within the law. BP could have refused the deal. They didn’t. In other words, Obama played his hand as president of the United States of America, not as a dictator. BP had a weak hand because they messed up and they know it and most of the planet, present company excepted know it.

      Rupert writes: “This should be adjudicated in court.”

      Sure. And 20 years later the heirs of broke fishermen and beach motel owners can get what is left after the lawyers divvie up. Brilliant solution. Rupert advocates Bleaker House. Trial lawyers agree with you by the way.

      “Here however, they approve of the president simply pulling a number out of his head and demanding cash, with no accounting of where the money will go. ”

      The money was not “pulled out of his head.” It was based on the expected magnitude of the damage, estimated in part by the number of people likely affected and the Exxon Valdez story. The money will go to those with valid claims, managed by a government appointed administrator who happens to have a pretty darn good record doing this sort of work in the recent past.

      “The other part of this is the out of work oil workers. Thats what part of this shakedown money is for.”

      You are darn right. Those people lost their jobs because BP showed what happens when you blow out a well 4000 feet below the surface of the ocean. Until they or the rest of the oil industry can show that it won’t happen again, or that they can fix it quickly if it does, then they should be out of the deep sea drilling business.

      “However that damage should be assessed in a legal fashion,”

      It was. The President of the United States has the legal authority to act on our behalf. He was protecting the taxpayers of the United States, including ungrateful ones such as yourself, from having to pay for BPs screw up. if you feel sorry for BP then send them a check.

      “We are incurring additional damage due to the non coordination in the gulf. Oil skimmers and other damage control equipment sit idle while idiocy like whether accordance with the Jones act is being upheld, or a skimmer barge should have this many or that many fire extinguishers. It’s pathetic.”

      And you base your information on what? Sarah Palin? You don’t have the first clue who is doing what out there. This is a massive effort. There is no question that there will be mistakes. Ships will be sent to the wrong place, some equipment will sit and wait to be told where to deploy, and standard safety of on board crews will be adhered to when the Coast Guard is running the show. The last thing we need is an uncoordinated response resulting in more accidents. The problem is a well that continues to gush more oil. The problem is not that people are not working as hard as they can to clean up the mess.

      “Thankfully the rest of the country is less concerned with the political opportunity than liberals tend to be. Thus Obamas rapidly falling poll numbers. ”

      There you go with the polls again. Obama is at the same plus or minus 50% that he has been at since last summer.

      “America wants this spill cleaned up and damages assessed in a legal and just fashion. ”

      Excuse me for asking this Rupert, but what the hell do you know about what “America” wants? America elected Obama to be our President and deal with these situations. Some Americans, including you and Joe Barton, appear to want a 10-20 year judicial process before the obvious culprit has to pay a dime. Other Americans, and I am among them, want to have BP held accountable today. BP apparently agrees.

      Lets face it. All you care about is whether this takes Obama down a notch or not. You are willing to risk 20 billion in taxpayer money to make your point. No thanks.

  • Nobama

    Rep. Barton is right it is a shakedown. He should not have apoligized for it. This scolding reminds me of the one talk radio host bill cunningham got from Sen, Johnny McCain