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Dems: We'll dare GOP to side with Big Oil

This could get interesting: Senate Democratic leaders plan to repeatedly push legislation next week to lift the liability cap on oil companies, in an effort to dare Republicans to side with Big Oil and oppose lifting the burden on taxpayers to clean up disasters like the Gulf oil spill, aides tell me.

With the politics of oil seemingly as slippery as ever, Dems already tried to pass such legislation by unanimous consent yesterday, only to have it blocked by GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The bill would have hiked the ceiling of liability for oil companies from $75 million to $10 billion after an oil spill.

Dem Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey tried a voice vote request on the bill yesterday, but Murkowski opposed it on the grounds that it could hurt what some are derisively calling "Small Oil" -- small companies that could get priced out of the market.

Senate Dem leaders reacted angrily yesterday to Murkowski's block. And now they say they're going to push the issue next week, by calling for more votes on it. Harry Reid spokesman Jim Manley emails:

"Senate Democrats, led by Senators Menendez, Lautenberg and Nelson, are going to continue next week to pass common-sense legislation to ensure that BP pays for the full cost of cleanup and that taxpayers in Nevada and across America are protected.

"Inexplicably, Republicans are protecting negligent oil companies like BP and blocking our efforts to prevent a BP bailout. Through their obstruction, Republicans are leaving taxpayers on the hook to pay for BP's negligence."

That's a reference to senators Frank Lautenberg and Bill Nelson. It's unclear how many Republican Senators would oppose this measure if it came to a vote, since they haven't been forced to take a stand on it, thanks to Murkowski's willingness to carry the oil, as it were, by blocking the vote.

But Dems intend to try to force the issue next week, at a time when the evolving disaster's consequences, political and environmental alike, remain murky and unknowable.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 14, 2010; 2:46 PM ET
Categories:  Climate change , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: How real is this plan to revise Miranda?
Next: Do voters really care about GOP "obstruction"?


Sounds like another winning position to me. Between this and financial reform, I'd say these are two winners going into mid-terms.

Good they got HCR out of the way last year because we all know how that played politically.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 14, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

OT but in case folks are interested, the SF Chronicle is doing a screening of Casino Jack tonight with a panel discussion after which you can catch live at

Oughta be good.

Somewhat related, I posted a link yesterday to a TP piece on Norquist which, it appears, might have gone off the rails. Sorry...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

And another OT... Media Matters details yet another of the bazillion examples where Bill Kristol says X on one day and Not-X on another...

Live is easy for both ideologues and propagandists. The thinking is no trick at all and the speaking is without ethical or logical constraints.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

You know Bernie, sometimes I think Bill K isn't all that smart.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 14, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

So, Pat Buchannen has an article out today entitled "Are Liberals Anti-WASP?"

This is just another instance of the GOP trying to polarize this president and turn white voters against him.

Just another example of the southern strategy at work. And it's working too if you take a look at the comments sections of where his articles are posted.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 14, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Mike, all I can say is thank god the poor WASP population has Pat to defend them. With all they are going through they need a voice in the media who is qualified, compassionate, and smart.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 14, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

@BG - Not the right way to think about the fellow, I'd argue. He has been (following from his father) hugely influential on American political discourse and the evolved shape of American politics. I consider him very bright indeed. But he has no allegiance to the truth or to accuracy because he's convinced that a Platonic or Straussian understanding of human political organization is correct. And therefore "integrity", to him, means doing whatever necessary to bring such a system into being - all else, truthfulness included, falls into relative insignificance, intellectually and morally. There's a lot of irony in all this, of course, as his ideology and maneuvers are far closer to what Lenin or Stalin got up to than anything Obama would even dream of. And, most obviously, because there are few individuals or ideologies anywhere on the US horizon who match the definition of "elite" as much as this guy and his Platonism.

I mentioned this morning that the NRO editors were trying to slip a new and ahistorical description of traditional Brit Toryism past their readers (suggesting Thatcherism was the tradition rather than a modern extremism). Today on FOX he gets explicit as to what his crowd wanted to see in Britain...

"The bad news is David Cameron does not look to be like a Margaret Thatcher or a Ronald Reagan conservative and seems more of a European conservative to not be very bold. But sometimes people surprise when they are in office. It's possible he will.",2933,592683,00.html

(and you can note Krauthammer's main concern...evil Muslims)

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

@Greg - as to your earlier question to me on beheadings...the term this morning was "chickens*h*i*t. I tried again with a slight change on that term and it went through. Can't recall the exact term I used in the prior instance a few days back but it was a similar naughty word.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

@mike - Pat Buchanan is thinking there maybe ought to be a "juden raus" sign up on the SC

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Bernie, I take your point, but we might disagree on what makes someone "smart." I've been battling Straussians off and on for a long time and with some exceptions, many of them are educated but not very smart. They cling to the Straussian view because it alleviates the difficulty of having to think through contradictions and complexities they'd rather avoid. It's ideological in the sense that it's a way of thinking that blocks contradictions; it only solves any problems by redefining the issue in its own terms.

And so for me Kristol is educated and smart in relative terms, but not in such a way that ought to afford him any kind of public platform. He wouldn't last two minutes in a room with me and 4 or 5 of my academic friends.

And he'd last a lot less time in a parking lot with some of my other friends.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 14, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

You know, when this guys 8 years are done, I'd like to see him now and again guest hosting for Jon Stewart...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Alternative energy is often dismissed as being not economically feasible. Oil has real health, environmental and political costs. None of those costs are reflected in the price of oil because it's so heavily subsidized by the taxpayers.

$75 million? That's less than some executive's annual salary! That ain't gonna pay to clean up the anything.

Posted by: thebobbob | May 14, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Greg, for the round-up:

"In an example of Republican obstructionism rendered beautiful by its simplicity, the GOP yesterday killed a House bill that would increase funding for scientific research and math and science education by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography."

You stay classy, Boehner and Cantor.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 14, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

BG - well, I think you are surely correct in that folks who are dead certain about the foundations of their ideology make themselves, necessarily, stupid.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

All, new thread:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 14, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Never let an opportunity pass you by: make them vote as many times as possible, until common sense settles in. Name a single "small" oil company responsible for any major oil spill anywhere on the planet, just one.

Posted by: info22 | May 15, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

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