Wednesday, June 16, 2010

President's Arm-Twisting Gets Results for Gulf Residents

Credit where credit is due. President Obama got a big win today and went a long way toward ameliorating the economic plight of the Gulf state residents ravaged by BP. The government will make BP pay, and he put their money where their mouth is:
  1. The escrow fund set aside is for $20 billion initially (not a cap), administered by Ken Feinberg, who has done an outstanding job running the compensation fund for 9/11 victims. It should be noted that the $20 billion is twice the amount of the liability cap raise legislation, from $75 million to $10 billion that all Republicans opposed, including Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jim Inhofe of of Oklahoma, both of whom are in the pockets of Big Oil and foes of the environment;
  2. President Obama further insisted that BP set aside $100 million to compensate deepwater rig workers who may be temporarily unemployed by the 6-month moratorium placed on deep water drilling until the investigation of this disaster and new, tougher regulations to prevent its recurrence are in place; and
  3. The President extracted a commitment from BP to monitor the health effects on cleanup workers and the corporation voluntarily agreed to suspend its dividend payments.
This is huge and a big win for the President on the claims processing fund. Republicans in the affected states were quick to give him credit, but those straddling the right wing fringe of anti-Obama discontent continue to play politics with the crisis. Wingnut Michelle Bachmann said:
“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.’ And they shouldn't be. They shouldn't have to be fleeced and make chumps to have to pay for perpetual unemployment and all the rest -- they've got to be legitimate claims. The other thing we have to remember is that Obama loves to make evil whatever company it is that he wants to get more power from. He makes them evil, and what we've got to ask ourselves is: Do we really want to be paying $9 for a gallon of gas? Because that could be the final result of this.”
Keep talking, you crazy demagogic witch. One thing the President is not, is an anti-corporate populist out to turn them into ‘evildoers.’ Just ask progressives, Michelle. Keep defending BP and you'll find an ally in the President. He said BP is a viable company and will remain so. He has no interest in seeing the company go into bankruptcy; but he's made clear he is on the side of the Gulf oil residents whose livelihoods are threatened. That's where he parts company with Big Oil Republicans.

Now it's on to the cleanup, and several issues have arisen there. Hopefully the mobilization of resources will proceed at a better and more efficient pace. The impact on wildlife is heartbreaking. But this is no Katrina, even though rightard Republicans will try to make it so. As they line up to defend BP and Big Oil they will become increasingly marginalized by the American people.

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