Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 16, 2010

GETTING WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE WANTED.... President Obama spoke to the media this afternoon, following his meeting with BP executives, including its chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg. In his remarks, the president outlined the results of the discussion.

"...I am pleased to announce that BP has agreed to set aside $20 billion to pay claims for damages resulting from this spill. This $20 billion amount will provide substantial assurance that the claims people and businesses have will be honored. And it is not a cap. The people of the Gulf have my commitment that BP will meet its obligations to them.

"BP has publicly pledged to make good on the claims it owes to people in the Gulf. And so, the agreement we reached will set up the financial and legal framework in which to do it.

"Another important element is that this $20 billion will not be controlled by either BP or by the government. It will be put in an escrow account, administered by an impartial, independent third party.

"If you or your business has suffered an economic loss as a result of this spill, you will be eligible to file a claim for part of this $20 billion. This fund will not supersede individuals' or states' rights to present claims in court. BP will also continue to be liable for the environmental disaster it caused, and we will continue to work to make sure they address it. Additionally, BP voluntarily agreed to establish a $100 million fund to compensate unemployed oil rig workers affected by the closure of other deep water rigs."

As to concerns raised by Republicans like Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the president added, "I'm absolutely confident BP will be able to meet its obligations to the Gulf Coast and to the American people. BP is a strong and viable company and it is in all our interests that it remains so. This is about accountability. At the end of the day, that's what every American wants and expects."

The White House also released a fact-sheet on how the escrow fund will work.

Also note, as Obama was briefing the media, BP's board of directors announced it would suspend paying dividends for the rest of 2010.

There were some concerns going into the week that BP would balk at White House demands. At this point, Obama seems to have won every concession he sought. For those along the Gulf Coast, that's good news.

Steve Benen 3:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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Comments

Prayer's answered

Put that tea in your pipe and smoke it!

Posted by: koreyel on June 16, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

So much for the "Obama is ineffective" meme, right? I think everyone needs to remember that he's gotten these concessions without Congress acting to lift the liability cap.

I'd have given anything to hear those negotiations. Obama, "nice little oil company you got there... be a shame if anything should happen to it. Did I mention I have a really big army at my disposal and I'm thinking of deploying it in the gulf and sending you the bill?"

Posted by: fourlegsgood on June 16, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, he got these concessions without Congress acting to lift the liability cap, but doesn't that strongly suggest that BP thought it was a better bargain?

Posted by: cld on June 16, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

"I'd have given anything to hear those negotiations. Obama, "nice little oil company you got there... be a shame if anything should happen to it. Did I mention I have a really big army at my disposal and I'm thinking of deploying it in the gulf and sending you the bill?"

FTW!!

Posted by: sue on June 16, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Queuing up another round of anger and consternation from the British dividend-collecting class over Obama's latent hatred of the British Empire, er, they mean England, er, that is, the UK.

I really didn't have a problem with the B part of BP until I started seeing all those frigging comments on the British newspaper sites with people upset about the disruption to their dividends and insisting that Obama was whipping up anti-British sentiment for political purposes.

And I'm just like, what is it with you people that makes you think Americans are even capable of being as hostile to Britain as a lot of Brits are to us? Enough with the projected Empire guilt, already. Get some therapy and get over it.

With the exception of a few diehard Irish types in Boston, the average American can't work up as much animus toward Britain over anything as they can for residents of the other state in a good interstate college sports rivalry, like, say Michigan and Ohio. All they've gotten from us is a few tart remarks and that's pretty much all they'll get. We know there's a difference between corporations and countries, okay?

What really irks me about the snitting is that if this was Exxon at fault and the British coastline from from Edinburgh to Tor Bay was getting hit with oiled birds and tarry dispersant laced crud, there'd be mass demonstrations against America and all things American across the land.

Posted by: Steve (Not That One) on June 16, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Obama and BP were playing a game of chicken and BP blinked first, but does anyone think BP wouldn't have played hardball if Obama had taken over from day 1 and BP could pretend they could have stopped the leak without government interference?

Posted by: Archon on June 16, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I applaud President Obama for securing $5B/Year to compensate those affected by the spill.

Now he needs to secure an equal (and likely a greater) amount to pay for the clean-up.

What they should do is double the royalties received from future oil production until all costs are paid.

Posted by: bdop4 on June 16, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

That fact sheet sounds really good, if it all happens as planned. $20 billion could be too little, but it's far from nothing, it doesn't prevent any lawsuits, and it won't bankrupt BP so they'll actually live to pay up. Compared to the likely alternative of getting nothing for decades until many victims die of old age and most of the lawyers getting to retire rich and then finally finding a judge and an error somewhere along the process that gets most of the damages thrown out, as happened with Exxon Valdez, this is a wonderful result, and is probably light years better than what President Name-Any-Republican would have done. The details on how this agreement came about should be fascinating.

Posted by: N.Wells on June 16, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

["Yes, he got these concessions without Congress acting to lift the liability cap, but doesn't that strongly suggest that BP thought it was a better bargain?"]

Are you implying that you think Obama promised the cap wouldn't be lifted in exchange for the escrow fund? Because if that's what you mean, then I think you're being irrationally paranoid.

Posted by: Shade Tail on June 16, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

I guess the President's speech was better than the chattering class thought.
The fact that these buffoons have an open mike is sad.

Posted by: hornblower on June 16, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Are you implying that you think Obama promised the cap wouldn't be lifted in exchange for the escrow fund? Because if that's what you mean, then I think you're being irrationally paranoid.

No, I am implying that the politics in Congress of getting it lifted will be harder now that they can point to some level of remediation with the number $20 billion in it.

Posted by: cld on June 16, 2010 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Some have suggested this is better than lifting the cap [see Crooks & Liars] as that could precipitate bankrptcy, and we know how long that takes to resolve for those with claims.

Posted by: jjm on June 16, 2010 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

"this is... probably light years better than what President Name-Any-Republican would have done."
Posted by: N.Wells on June 16, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Considering that the Pubs (inadvertently I'm sure) tipped their hand as to the most likely (read: certain) response, when Rep Boner (R-Delusia) indicated he thought the taxpayers should shoulder some of the costs, I'd say that's a fair assessment.

Posted by: smartalek on June 16, 2010 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Now he needs to secure an equal (and likely a greater) amount to pay for the clean-up. -- bdop4, @16:11

Um... They're already legally obligated to shell out for the *entirety* of the clean-up. basic clean-up isn't in question; restoration to something approaching normalcy (both on land and in the ocean) is. Starting with getting the claims sorted out of the people who'd lost their livelihood for years to come.

Posted by: exlibra on June 16, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Penalty could also include tarring & feathering of responsible parties.

Posted by: JoAnn C. on June 16, 2010 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm curious to see how this plays out w/the nation's pundits over the next coupla days . . . given that it was only announced today.

My initial take on this was that it was a very big deal, and that Obama must have scared the HELL out of BP. (I would also speculate that part of getting this $20B is an implicit promise that no serious criminal charges will be brought; but that's just speculation).

As has been pointed out, BP already is responsible for the total cost of the clean-up, but is legally limited to only $75M in liability. For BP to agree to cough up $20B -- in other words, not 75 million, but 20,000 million -- well, I think that's something.

Y'know what? Forget whether Obama is "angry enough," or whether he should or not have said the word "ass" on the Today Show . . . this is the kind of low-key, results oriented shit I want my President to be able to do.

Of course, now that he's done it I think he should make sure there is someone out there telling the rest of the world what an accomplishment this is.

Posted by: Swellsman on June 17, 2010 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

This post will be in my head for a very long time.

Posted by: onlinemarketing on December 28, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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