I’m shocked, shocked to learn from TPM’s Brian Beutler that Republican Minority Leader John Boehner advocated a federal bailout of BP to help them pay the massive bill for damages from their company-caused oil disaster. Then, realizing what he’d just said, Boehner’s spox ran for semantic cover. Too late:
In response to a question from TPMDC, House Minority Leader John Boehner said he believes taxpayers should help pick up the tab for the clean up.
"I think the people responsible in the oil spill–BP and the federal government–should take full responsibility for what’s happening there," Boehner said at his weekly press conference this morning. . . .
So today I asked Boehner, "Do you agree with Tom Donohue of the Chamber that the government and taxpayers should pitch in to clean up the oil spill?" The shorter answer is yes. . . .
Update: Boehner spokesman Michael Steel emails to say "Boehner made a general statement about who is responsible for the spill, and the federal government oversight was clearly lacking, but he has said repeatedly that BP is responsible for the cost of the cleanup."
So, the Republican principle regarding responsibility for economic/financial disaster seems to be: if lax government oversight contributed to inexcusable and probably criminal corporate behavior that causes massive economic damage, the federal government and tax payers should bail out the corporation and share the costs of damages. You know, just like bailing out Wall Street megabanks after they tanked the economy while captured US regulators slept.
Glad we got that straight.
In the meantime, Britain’s new Conservative government is upset because President Obama is upset — cover your ass — at the negligent company. Because that company’s billions in profits pay the dividends that fund British pensions but won’t be able to do that if the company has to pay for all the damages it caused, or worse, goes belly up like an oil-smothered pelican. So now the Conservative Brits, who just announced serious austerity measures to punish their citizens for crimes British banks committed, are also promising to bail out BP, because . . . well because BP is too big to fail, or something.
And that’s how it all works, see? Serious people.
John Chandley didn’t make this up.
Politically, this is a potential game-changer. There’s ample polling data that reflects public frustration about the disaster in the Gulf, and that’s certainly understandable. But if the cost debate turns partisan — Dems want BP to pick up the tab; Republicans want you to pick up the tab — it can change the politics of the story in a hurry. Does Boehner really want to see Republican candidates explaining this fall why they want their constituents to pay for BP’s disaster? The 30-second ads write themselves.
Update: Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner, on the panel to investigate BP’s role in the disaster, owns 3600 shares of BP, whose value has now fallen $130,000. Someone should ask him what he thinks about Boehner’s bailout proposal.