Granted, the allegations are coming from Republicans. But considering the Democrats’ large-scale refusal to oversee the Obama Administration’s activities, they should, at least, be considered. And if they turn out to be true, the oil spill will do more damage to Obama than Katrina ever did to Bush.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R – Cal.), the ranking member on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, has announced that he will be releasing a report later today on the federal government’s response to the oil spill, and early reports aren’t pretty. Excerpts from the report reveal conduct spanning from bumbling to flat-out impeachable behavior on the part of the White House.
Some examples include,
“The number of assets claimed [by the White House], however, does not appear to match what is actually in the field. This is corroborated by Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who shared a similar story with investigators. BP and Coast Guard provided Mr. Nungesser with a map of the Gulf allegedly pinpointing the exact locations of 140 skimmers cleaning up oil. Sensing that the chart may have been somewhat inaccurate, Mr. Nungesser requested a flyover of the assets for verification. After three cancelled trips, officials admitted to Mr. Nungesser that only 31 of the 140 skimmers were ever deployed. The rest were sitting at the docks. According to Mr. Nungesser, the chart appeared to have been fabricated.”
This alleged fabrication is significant, especially given the Administration’s recent attempts to refute claims that they’re refusing international help. We addressed Obama’s failure to waive the Jones Act here recently, and responded to a commentator who asserted, with dubious support, that those criticisms were unfounded. Well, if Issa is correct, it’s not just foreign aid being denied; Barry’s not providing domestic assistance either. The allegation would also provide an explanation as to why the air space above the spill is largely closed, with very few fly-overs permitted.
Resources Used as Bargaining Chip to Mute Criticism
“In some instances, it appears that equipment is provided simply to quiet public criticism. Mr. Nungesser, who has frequently appeared on local and national television, was apparently visited by two White House officials at his office on Fathers’ Day. According to Mr. Nungesser, the purpose of their visit was to find a way to keep him from calling attention to the lack of equipment. Specifically, they asked him, “What do we have to do to keep you off tv?” He simply replied, “give me what I need.” On another occasion, Placquemines Parish officials requested 20 skimmers at a town hall meeting held by the Coast Guard. According to Mr. Nungesser, “They gave us two skimmers to shut us up.” These accounts raise serious questions about whether the Administration is more concerned with fighting a public relations battle than combating the oil spill.”
This is a damning allegation, but one that shouldn’t shock anyone, considering the Chicago-style politics running rampant at the White House. If the two aforementioned allegations (and there are more if you read the linked article) turn out to be true, and I have little reason to question local officials at this point, I would argue that they amount to an impeachable offense. In fact, if the president is not making damn sure every available ship is down there, and even goes so far as to use Coast Guard vessels as bargaining chips, then he shouldn’t just be impeached, he should be in prison.
Rep. Issa is apparently releasing the full report later today. I have no doubt that the Administration will deny all of its contents, and blame its existence on partisanship. When Barry makes these claims however, ask yourself whether he provides any actual proof that the report is false; don’t simply take his word for it.
Sigh. Jobless claims have gone up again. The White House continues to dither in the face of our biggest foreign threat. The president still hasn’t waived the Jones Act. There are so many options with which to legitimately attack the current administration, I am failing to understand the criticism over the BP escrow account. Rush calls it a “shakedown.” Others are calling it a slushfund. I keep hearing that it’s unconstitutional. People, if there’s one thing that we can’t do right now, it’s lose credibility by going after the president for the good things he’s doing. Saying no to something simply because Barry came up with it is stupid. In fact, it’s so stupid, it causes idiots like Texas Republican Joe Barton to issue apologies to BP! Thanks Joe. Can everyone on the right just shut up for five friggin’ minutes and use the heads you used to have before you became politicians and pundits?
Okay, rant over. Let’s first examine the realities of the BP esrow fund. First, it’s not unconstitutional. Why? Because it’s a simple agreement between parties. It would have been unconstitutional if the President had forced BP to give $20 billion before it was found liable under one of any number of laws (plus the liability cap issue). Now, Limbaugh is probably correct to a certain extent: BP was probably threatened with something if it didn’t agree to the $20 billion. I’m sure we’ll learn about the identity of the super-secret bargaining chip in the next few days when it’s leaked to the press.
With respect to those who complain the $20 billion is a slushfund, i.e., a fund for whatever the President wants to use it for, you’re absolutely correct! It is a pot of money being administered by one person over whom only Barry has authority. You can be certain that a whole lotta’ pet projects and/or bailouts will be getting their hands on some of that money. How do I know? Well look at the bank bailout. Lest we forget, Congress passed TARP for the sole purpose of purchasing toxic assets, i.e. bad mortgages. Never happened. Not even once. Instead, the banks and auto companies were simply given the money to do with what they wanted. And TARP was at least passed by Congress. The terms of the BP fund were probably written down on a cocktail napkin.
Now, the slushfund can be good or bad, depending upon your perspective. It’s good if your only goal is to destroy the White House. If history is any indication, while legitimate claims are being denied due to red tape, the funds will be siphoned off for other purposes. And when word leaks out that it’s happening, the White House will be blamed. This is why I don’t understand why the talking heads on the right are so upset about this. In one ill-conceived move, Barry has now taken on the sole responsibility for helping every man, woman and child in the entire Gulf region. I say good luck to you sir. Now, on the other hand, the slushfund is bad because chances are, very little of the money will actually get to those who need it.
Allahpundit at Hot Air offers a different criticism, via a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed.
[A] government-administered fund more or less guarantees a more politicized payment process. The escrow administrator will be chosen by the White House, and as such would be influenced by the Administration’s political goals. Those goals would include payments to those harmed by the Administration’s own six-month deep water drilling ban. That reckless policy will soon put thousands of Gulf Coast residents out of work, but the White House knows that BP isn’t liable under current law for those claims. The escrow account is an attempt to tap BP’s funds by other means to pay the costs of Mr. Obama’s own policy blunder.
The op-ed is mostly correct, but also slightly wrong. I have no doubt that the pay-out process will become more politicized and will be pushed in certain directions by the White House. However, monies going to those put out of work by the moratorium will be paid out of a separate $100 million fund created by BP (at least the funds were separate as of yesterday. It’s possible that $100 million will be rolled into the $20 billion fund, but really, does it matter?).
The bottom line is this: Obama securing $20 billion from BP is not a bad thing in and of itself. It theoretically provides a source of money to start cleaning up BP’s mess. But securing the money is just the beginning. Obama had better make sure it’s actually distributed to the right people. If it’s not, we might just be witnessing the last nail in the president’s political coffin.
In a further effort to make people think he’s kicking a little ass, President Obama is planning to order BP to create an independently administered fund to reimburse victims of the spill. I, for one, can’t think of any way the White House or Congress could order BP to put millions of dollars of its own money into any fund for the payment of claims absent either a finding of liability or BP’s bankruptcy. While the EPA certainly has the authority to compel BP to pay for the environmental clean-up, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have the authority to force BP to pay Bubba-Gump for the loss of his shrimping business. In that case, B.G. would have to sue BP and ultimately prove that his loss of business was caused by the oil spill.
Notwithstanding the above, however, I think it would be in BP’s best interest to agree to the fund. At some point, BP is going to start being faced with claims that have nothing to do with the oil spill. The last thing BP needs is the press running stories about how poor Silvio is having to fight with the big bad BP over being reimbursed for the poor performance of his male escort service in Las Vegas. By agreeing to the fund, BP will be washing its hands of presiding over the reimbursement process. Instead, an independent Special Master could be appointed to determine who should get what. Agreeing to the fund would be a public relations victory for BP, as well as a common sense solution for dealing with the Silvio’s of the world.