BY KENNY BELFORD
On health care reform, the Republican Party fought for the corporate interests of big insurance companies. On the economy, Republicans fought to strip away decades of protective regulations bringing us the largest recession since The Great Depression, and Republicans are fighting to protect the big “too big to fail” banks, attempting to block any regulations to protect Americans. Now in the Gulf of Mexico we have the largest ecological disaster our nation has ever faced. Livelihoods are destroyed, people’s lives are being devastated and Republicans are defending the big oil companies that created the mess.
Just last week, the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton of Texas, opened a hearing with the CEO of British Petroleum, the giant oil company that created the disasters, with this comment, “I think it’s a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation would be subjected to what I would characterize as a ‘shakedown’ – in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.”
Think about it – in the Gulf right now, jobs are being lost, ecosystems are being destroyed, an entire way of life is being upended. And Joe Barton is apologizing to the oil company that caused the disaster.
The action he’s apologizing for, to a foreign corporation, is our government’s insistence that BP set aside funds to pay for the cost of cleaning up their own mess that they caused, and to compensate Americans who have lost their jobs, their income and their businesses.
He isn’t alone.
Republican congresswoman, and Tea Party favorite, Michelle Bachman of Minnesota went to bat for BP this week, saying the company shouldn’t be “fleeced” by the government and claiming mandated relief funds are just a “redistribution of wealth.” But she didn’t stop there. Bachmann said President Obama is guilty of extortion, a federal felony. The “extortion” she cited is an insistence by our government that the corporation that caused the problem pay to fix it.
Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe has even put a block on the bill that would raise the liability of oil companies from $75 million to $10 billion, stopping it from even coming up for a vote.
If the oil companies that create and cause a disaster don’t pay for the problem they created, who do you think will have to pay the difference? It’s you. It’s me. It’s the American taxpayers. That’s the prevailing Republican mindset.
Recently, Sen. John Kerry said this about Republicans, “No special interest is beyond special treatment.” That’s his opinion, but viewing what they’ve in the past few months, and are doing now, it seems quite accurate.
– Kenny Belford lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer