Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 10, 2010

BOEHNER WANTS YOU TO PICK UP THE TAB.... Tom Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, raised a few eyebrows last week when he addressed the costs of the BP oil spill disaster. While President Obama and congressional Democrats have been emphasizing the need for the oil giant to pay for its own catastrophe, Donohue said he wanted to spread the burden around.

"Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up; we are all going to have to do it," he said. "We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies and we will figure out a way to do that."

And when Donohue says "money from the government," that necessarily means money from American taxpayers. When he says "we" are "all" going to have to bear the financial burden, Donohue is suggesting the public and BP split the tab.

Of course, congressional Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce are joined at the hip. Does the GOP agree with their buddy Donohue about taxpayers helping pay for the disaster? Actually, yes. Brian Beutler has this report.

In response to a question from TPMDC, House Minority Leader John Boehner backed Tom Donohue, President of the Chamber of Commerce, in saying taxpayers should help pick up the tab.

"I think the people responsible in the oil spill -- BP and the federal government -- should take full responsibility for what's happening there." [...]

The Chamber is extremely influential in Republican politics, so on that level it's not particularly surprising that Boehner has Donohue's back on this one. But the politics of asking the federal government (i.e. taxpayers) to help cover the multi-billion dollar cleanup and rescue efforts are deadly. Look for Democrats to jump all over this one.

As well they should. 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: Boehner's office is now trying to walk this back. The spin, however, isn't especially persuasive.

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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I can understand why Boehner might think this; I'm just amazed he's stupid enough to say it.

Posted by: Jon on June 10, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Certainly are bad optics -- but typical of Boehner and Donahue, who are the 'bad guys' in the pro wrestling world of national politics.

But in the end they're right, god damn it, because between the corporate puppets and the corporations, we'll be paying for it for a long time.

Posted by: neill on June 10, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner's pulling a strategic move, one that will hopefully blow up in his face. Because when he says...
"I think the people responsible in the oil spill -- BP and the federal government -- should take full responsibility for what's happening there."

...what he's HOPING is that when people see/hear "federal government" they think "Obama." Thus, he's to blame, not the President before him who set up the machinations of less regulation and CERTAINLY NOT the Senators who turned a blind eye to it all. He's saying "Obama's to blame, and you, the taxpayer, will have to pay for HIS mistake. What are you gonna do it about it, Whitey? Just sit there? Of course not! You are going to join with us. The members of the American Socialist White Peoples' Party...er, I mean the Republican Party! An organization of decent, law abiding white folk...er I mean Americans! Just like you!"

Posted by: slappy magoo on June 10, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight. The GOP is:

* Running one of the 10 Worst CEOs In History for U.S. Senate in California.

* Wants the US Taxpayer to bail out the foreign corporation that destroyed the Gulf of Mexico.

* And is trying to give insurance companies the power to make your health care decisions.

We can't lose! No one could possibly fuck this up!
Oh. Wait. We're Democrats. How far are we down?

Posted by: Cazart on June 10, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Which once again begs the question, where the hell are all the easy 30 second write themselves spots?

The Democratic Party and the DSCC are rolling in cash this cycle. I should be seeing comercials blasting Republicans all over the TV. Where does all that cash go?

Posted by: thorin-1 on June 10, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The 30-second ads may write themselves, Steve, but they don't produce themselves. It would take a concerted and persistent effort by the Democratic Party and like-minded groups to make this stick. I won't be holding my breath.

Posted by: erp65 on June 10, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

You don't even need 30 secs: BP Bailout! BP Bailout! BP Bailout!

Posted by: martin on June 10, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'll be goddamned before a penny of MY tax money goes to help that lazy, unwed-mother of an oil spill. Let it go out and find a fucking job like everyone else.

Also, tell them gay polar bears to start making some more ice up there!

Posted by: Wilfred T. Baggersmith on June 10, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

If any government should pay, shouldn't it be Great Britain?

Posted by: chrenson on June 10, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

It's the government's fault that BP chose to cut corners on safety/failure mitigation measures?

That's akin to "it's my wife's fault because she let me beat her".

Nothing like blamesharing (as opposed to blameshifting) to diffuse responsibility. Pathetic.

Posted by: grape_crush on June 10, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

But I thought the deficit was the importantest thing in the history of importance! And Boner wants to... spend... tax money? On a bailout? Of a private company that made a $6 billion profit just in the first quarter of this year?

Once again the Republics are trying to cut their own throats. I wonder what novel way the Dems will find to insert their own necks in the way of the blade.

Posted by: Joe Bauers on June 10, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

House Minority Leader John Boehner backed Tom Donohue, President of the Chamber of Commerce, in saying taxpayers should help pick up the tab.

Oh, hell no.

Tell that orange motherfucker to go fuck himself.

Tea anyone?

Posted by: Oh my on June 10, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

"I think the people responsible in the oil spill -- BP and the federal government -- should take full responsibility for what's happening there."

So the theory here is start with less regulation, when the industry fails miserably, then the Fed should split the cost, because they didn't have enough regulation.

What the Fuck ?

I'll bite, but when the company succeeds, presumably because of less regulation, we should split that tab as well. Right ?

This is typical Republican governing, socialize costs and privatize profits.

Posted by: ScottW714 on June 10, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

If WE taxpayers have to split the cost of the cleanup with BP, I suggest it be in the form of a SURTAX placed on the bottom of our tax returns. You owe the Feds $X + a surtax (y percent of $X). Everyone will know how much this mess is cost them and most folks won't be happy about it all.

Posted by: anomaly on June 10, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, a perfect Democratic slogan: BP bailout is right, W. T. Baggersmith. And why? BP is the fourth largest corporation in the world--the world! And they're complaining that Obama is demanding they pay out too much.

Posted by: jjm on June 10, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, let's get started on the commercials.

But here is a perfect opportunity for Obama to show some emotion.

I heard the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce thinks that the American taxpayers should split the cost of cleaning up the oil disaster in the Gulf with BP. What I say is, No way! No how!

And now John Boehner agrees and thinks that it's a good idea. I'd tell the minority leader to kiss my black ass, but that might cause the Republicans to get the vapors and swoon. So instead I'm going to promise this -- if a bill ever lands on my desk that tries to relieve BP from paying all the costs of the cleanup, I will veto it before the ink is even dry.

Posted by: SteveT on June 10, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Let the Republicans run on that platform: tax money to bailout big oil!

Posted by: iyouwemeus on June 10, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I knew it was just a matter of time before the party of less government would want the government to pick up the tab.....the Democratic Party BETTER run with this position......but they won't.

Posted by: sharon on June 10, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

A bunch of swell ideas for 30 sec spots. Steve T hits the T; but we all know Mr Cautious would never do it. So where is Rep Grayson, of FL? Barney Frank, of MA?

I betcha Al Franken could deliver some game changers on U Tube. Or is it You Tube? An old fart wants to know. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 10, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

"The 30-second ads write themselves."

Presumably you would want to throw in some video of moronic chanting of "Drill, Baby, Drill" in Minneapolis.

Posted by: bob h on June 10, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

OK. First off, Boehner is not the brightest bulb and should give ANYONE pause that is voting for a GOP house member in 2010. THAT being said, do people (those that LISTEN to Boehner) even understand the HYPOCRISY? The FEDS should BAILOUT BP???? HELLO??? What have you guys been bitching about for 18 months???

Posted by: SYSPROG on June 10, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner wants the People to bail out his corpaorate pals? That sounds a lot like "socialism" to me.


Posted by: S. Waybright on June 10, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

So, if "the government" is to pay for this, do we raise taxes on We The People? Cut taxes on the wealthiest corporations so they will spend more of their money to self-regulate? Does this create jobs? Who is hiring? The corporations to implement their safety standards or the government to mop up the oil and clean birds?
I agree with those that are frustrated with the dems. I have yet to see an aggressive and managed message that is blasted on all the channels. If a network refuses to run an ad, call a press conference and have WH Press Secy Robert Gibbs announce it at the daily press briefing so that no one can plead ignorance. Of course, this suggestion is much too rational and might expose some of the dems, but let us keep the narrative going.

Posted by: st john on June 10, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Benen's naivete never ceases to amaze. Or maybe my cynicism never ceases to amaze. I sincerely hope that he is correct, but let's go over some recent history:

HCR in general, and the public option, specifically, were popular with the public. We got, with lots of help from Democrats, a greatly watered down HCR that leaves private, for profit health insurance companies in charge of our hopelessly dysfunctional system and the public option was never on the table.

Going after the bankers both legally, and with tougher new regulations, were also very popular with the public. What we've seen is the Obama DOJ bring fraud charges against one firm (there are probably more than that going after relatively obscure and small players, but there has been only one set of charges brought against a major player in the financial sector). In addition, and again with lots of Democratic support, we already have VERY watered down financial regulation that everyone seems to agree will get even more watered down in reconciliation.

So, why does Mr. Benen believe the response to the oil disaster will be different? With the likes of Landrieu and Lincoln on the Democratic side and Graham changing his stripes on this topic, I don't see things shaping up the way Mr. Benen does.

Posted by: Vince on June 10, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah! Let's spread the wealth around! ... wait ...

Posted by: I. Rony on June 10, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's not surprising. It's a key component of the GOP's strategy to obscure the fact that "the government" is us.

Posted by: Bernard Gilroy on June 10, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

O.K. Rand Paul said two weeks ago that he thought the the government was being too hard on BP, and no one really ran with that in the MSM and the punditry. See all the lenghthy editorials in the Post or the Times condeming that stance? Instead they wanted to talk about the civil rights act, which isn't going to be repealed any time soon. Where are the ads with that quote?

I doubt the the national party will pick this one up. That would be "going too far" for the reasonable.

It won't be called a bailout anyway. It will be called a liability cap.

Posted by: anomimouse on June 10, 2010 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

While it's a stupid idea it's maybe a little harder for the dems to savage it given that they were all for the equally stupid bailouts of wall street and the insurance companies.

Which is just one more reason that the dems should stop doing such fucking stupid things- because it makes it hard to capitalize when the other side also screws up.

Posted by: Tlaloc on June 10, 2010 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

And when Donohue says "money from the government," that necessarily means money from American taxpayers.

Funny how that works, isn't it? Extending unemployment benefits to all those lucky duckies out there and producing a decent jobs bill is considered "too costly," but asking us all to help pay for a disaster solely caused by a rapacious, lawless and grossly unethical multinational corporation is just fine and dandy! The Republican party in a nutshell.

Posted by: electrolite on June 10, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

People in Ohio

You have a choice. Send Justin Coussoule in to sit in the House of Reps. Unless Coussoule thinks BP should get off the hook

Posted by: thinkAgain on June 10, 2010 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm. If American taxpayers pick up the tab...wouldn't that be socializing big oil? I thought it was Armageddon to socialize the private sector.
I've been trying to stay away from political news lately for sanity's sake, but I can't believe the conservative reaction to the BP disaster. They are blaming Obama for not jumping the federal government in to the situation fast enough to take over, while just a couple months ago they were up in arms because they alleged Obama of wanting to socialize every conceivable aspect of the country! I'd like to see someone ask some prominent conservatives why they expected the federal government to solve a private industry problem. I mean, isn't that one of their big beefs; we shouldn't expect the federal government to be a savior?

Posted by: Varecia on June 11, 2010 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

"I'll bite, but when the company succeeds, presumably because of less regulation, we should split that tab as well. Right ? "

No we should split the company because they're anti-competitive enemy of the people.

Posted by: Chris on June 11, 2010 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

If this is going to be the party stance I never, never want to hear them ranting about socialist policies again. If anything they should be voting to raise and damage caps in place for this disaster, and encouraging the private sector put pressure on BP, that whole "free market," small government principle.
This makes me sick.

Posted by: Justim on June 11, 2010 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK

Pumpkin Face just came out and said he misunderstood the question, that he is wrong and is sorry.

I don't think he is qualified to drive a school bus never mind write laws.

Posted by: Kevin on June 11, 2010 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

I think all of the costs that go into extracting and burning a gallon of gasoline should be charged directly to the consumer. And I think that price would come out to about $20 a gallon. Once we start paying the real price, I think a lot of people will turn to electric cars like the leaf for most of their local driving needs, rather than driving alone in their 8-passenger SUV to the grocery store. I also think more people would select the more efficient lifestyle offered by cities, over the inefficiency of suburban sprawl, currently made possible by unnaturally low gas prices. I realize it requires fuel to bring food to my grocery store, but I walk there to get it, and so can discard all the inefficiencies of the last mile.

Posted by: Terax on June 11, 2010 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe there are other people in here just like me who thinks the same about this issue, because for me it isn't a big issue.

Posted by: zoekmachine optimalisatie on December 28, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK



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