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Clubbing Barton, BP and the GOP with a $20 billion hammer

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) called the $20 billion compensation fund for folks whose livelihood and lives the BP explosion and oil spill upended a “shakedown.” And I want the White House and the Democrats to continue hammering away at him and the GOP for it. Indeed, the fund's establishment shouldn't lessen the pressure on BP to pay for its mess, either. Listen to Ken Feinberg, the man President Obama tapped to head the fund, explain how the money will be distributed.

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The key phrase is: “These emergency payments come without condition.” Unlike the families who availed themselves of the 9/11 victims compensation fund, folks tapping into the BP fund will not give up their right to sue for damages. This is good for gulf residents and business owners. All should remember: Had BP not cut corners to cut costs it wouldn’t be on the hook for such payouts to begin with.

By Jonathan Capehart  | June 21, 2010; 11:19 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Will Joe Barton support a criminal case against BP?


I'm truly astonished at how many on the Right agree with Barton! They're rooting for BP against small businesses, fishermen, the tourist industry, and restoration of wildlife. Rooting for BP. Even the GOP leadership came down hard on Barton because they know how bad it looks. Greed, Big Oil, corporate power, endless litigation are what Barton is for.

I've been wondering what the Right is For. They've now come out with what they're for. Big Oil. British Petroleum. And to hell with the "small people." Remember, Americans, that's the attitude you choose when voting for Republicans. Talk about elitist attitudes! Get out the yachts!

Posted by: cturtle1 | June 21, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The government insisted on the $20 billion turned over to the US government control. BP was under no legal obligation so this can accurately be called a shakedown. It's not a matter of rooting for BP or the little people but a matter of rooting for "equal justice under the law".

IF BP and the government had come to a mutual agreement, that would be different. At the time, some in congress were advocating seizure of BP assets.

BP is working hard to solve the problem and the government is whipping them continuously. Too bad the government can't work WITH BP to solve the problem.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | June 21, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Can't help wondering what Joe Barton and the Rand Pauls out there would have Obama do? Would they allow BP 20 years like the EXXON disaster-to reimburse the losses of the gulf coast people? Would Joe Barton really want to see the coast's resorts, restaurants, fishermen and their employees file a suit that may(after appeals)get some attention in a decade or more? I'm guessing that answer is "Yes". It's no loss to Joe Barton when those local small businesses loose their mortgages, their motels, or their boats. To me it seems incredible that this congressman's priorities are so out of touch with the average American.

Posted by: MYMO | June 21, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

It has nothing to do with the Right supporting BP. It has to do with the Right supporting America, its laws, and due process. Who cares if BP goes Bankrupt as long as everything is handled legally and with due process. In the United States, judges and juries and laws decide liability. Plaintiffs have to prove loss and we have these amazing things called courts to handle this whole process. Well up until now. Liability should not be decided presidential appointed Czars (who were his campaign donors). The administration shoved due process aside for the new Obamalaw now dictated to the companies and people of this country. Everyone who suffered losses should be compensated propoerly, but only through the LEGAL processes available through courts. The shakedown, was a shakedown. Its unfortunate Mr. Transparency and his Transparent administration wouldn't let anyone record the Shakedown meeting. Our laws and due process were avoided and the Administration should take heat for it. It was crooked and should be investigated.

Posted by: gwi_fx | June 21, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

If there is a problem with the legal process, it can be fixed. Thats why we have a legislative branch of government. They can fix laws for faster settlement if deemed necessary. The problem is this administration skips processes altogether "in the name of whatever cause is on Obamas mind" We might as well eliminate the legislative and judicial branch is the executive branch can ignore the first two and remove the checks and balances from out system of government. Or ignore it only when the president feels its necessary. Our founding fathers would be rolling over in their graves. The system only works when people follow the laws and use the system properly. As said, it has nothing to do with supporting BP. It has everything to do with supporting America and the values, priciples, and checks and balances it is based on. Well was based on until recently anyway. Maybe one day we can get back to that America, the one the uses due process and rights for businesses and individuals alike. We need to get away from the new "Changed" America that avoids due process and laws at all costs and prefers to use a witchhunting and burn them at the stake without judge or jury mentality. I just hope if you ever make a mistake of any size, you have the right to defend yourself in a court of law, with a lawyer, a judge, and a jury of peers and can be judged within the defenition of the law. Cause in this new America of "Change" it is likely Mr. Obama will be the one lighting the match under your feet as you burn in front of the crowd long before you ever reach the courtroom.

Posted by: gwi_fx | June 21, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

The argument posited by some on this message board, that the Obama administration somehow side-stepped the "rule of law" for a "shakedown" of BP is ridiculous. The administration had no way to "force" BP to agree to the $20 billion dollar fund, so contrary to what some are saying, BP was asked, and agreed to do it. Secondly, are you truly suggesting that BP not be on the hook for any money until this whole sordid mess finally works its' way through the courts? Somehow, if you were one of the folks in La., Ala., Miss., or Fla., who has, or is about to lose their livelihood due to this horrible disaster, I think you'd be singing a different tune! Just another example of the lack of empathy of so many on the right, who only give a damn if it's their ox that being gored.

Posted by: bienefes | June 21, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Again if our court system is flawed, fix it, properly, don't avoid it. BP has the same right to a court room as any fisherman in the gulf. Even if BP was a small business who was at fault, they have rights, or use to. Rights still mean something to some people. Not as many as it use to, but still to some. I understand you think its ok to throw out 200 years of due process and checks and balances just for convinience, but the processes are here for a reason. Just because BP says they are at fault does not waive their rights. Just like people who admit to murder still face a judge, jury, and appear in court. I'm not saying BP is not or should not be liable. They should be, for every last dollar, until every person is made whole. They can affford it, and i'm sure they will. My issue is with avoiding due process "in the name of". Ignoring the means to reach the end. It is a very dangerous road to start down. As I said, I hope you do not own the next business to make a mistake, or have a child who makes a mistake. Cause you can no longer assume you will have your day in court to defend yourself, not if someone is close by with a match.

Lastly, How do you know no threats were made to BP. Tranparency was not available. They could have been threatened with losing all drilling rights in the US or ability to supply the U.S. We have no clue because it was a behind closed-doors and not handled in a legal court of law. And for your information BP was not waiting till the whole mess was settled. Last week, on their own accord, before the shakedown, they paid out over $75 million in compensation claims to the Gulf residents, which was their choice.

Posted by: gwi_fx | June 21, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

LMAO at republicans bleating about "due process."

You guys want a military tribunal for a CITIZEN (albeit a scumbag) in the NY Times Square non-attack.

You've got dead politicians and newborn babies on an error-filled "no fly list" which restricts every citizen's 2 amendment rights.

spare me your self-righteous bulls}t about a foreign company's due process.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | June 21, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

the no fly list is governed by republicans. wow thats news to me. I'm glad your political smarts has chimed in. And again the 2 amendment as you call it is the right to keep and bear arms, so the link to the no fly list is what?????? Wow, you just made a great crossover to the lack of proper education in this country.

Posted by: gwi_fx | June 21, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The administration had no way to "force" BP to agree to the $20 billion dollar fund, so contrary to what some are saying, BP was asked, and agreed to do it. Secondly, are you truly suggesting that BP not be on the hook for any money until this whole sordid mess finally works its' way through the courts?


It was most certainly was a shakedown. BP was "asked" by the President who both demonized them for weeks and has the full power of the state to really make them hurt.

I'm not defending BP; If I were President I probably would have done the same thing. Let's not lie to ourselves about what transpired.

Posted by: bbface21 | June 21, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

So much concern for BP by some on this board, and so little, if any, for the folks that their corner-cutting negligence has ruined, and the environmental devastation that perhaps has changed that area's ecology forever. Sorry, can't find it in me to work up much sympathy for BP right now.

Posted by: bienefes | June 21, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

We should certinly allow due process to take place- it worked very well* in the Exxon Valdez case. The grounding occurred in 1989 and the case was settled in 2008. The original punitive damages were reduced by 90%, from $5 billion to $500 million**, on the theory that Exxon's behavior was not malicious.

* Very well, at least from the viewpoint of Exxon. The local wildlife and human residents may disagree, but their feelings are not material to the case.

** $500 million was about one month's profit for Exxon at the time of the grounding. In 2008 (a very good year) they made $10 billion in one quarter.

Who says due process doesn't work?

Posted by: bfank | June 22, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

People crying about poor BP being deprived of due process are probably lawyers really crying because, under the program, they won't get a cut! Spare me.

By the time BP's lawyers obfuscate, file a thousand motions to delay a trial etc. the people of the Gulf coast will be in abject poverty and the wildlife dead. Remember that BP is already trying to combine the legal cases against it into one case heard by its hand picked judge in Houston, Oil Company Central. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the case away from near the scene of the crime - New Orleans.

Obama did exactly the right thing to prevent the economic devastation of the people of the Gulf Coast to the greatest degree that he can.

Posted by: colton | June 22, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

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