If there is a God …

… the Republicans will decide to take a stand with BP on paying for the catastrophe in the Gulf.

… the Republicans will be stupid enough to oppose making BP pay the full cost of the spill, suggesting instead that the federal government – i.e., the taxpayers – contribute. Can you say “bailout”?

Looks as if the Chamber is going to bat for its member, and John Boehner is at least tentatively weighing in on that side of the argument.

If Obama & Co. can frame this as the issue in November – Should the taxpayers have to pay for BP’s mistakes? – the Republicans will have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Update Harry Reid’s office is on the case. Good work!

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

6 thoughts on “If there is a God …”

  1. Ha. Good luck getting spoiled Americans to be ok with rising gas prices. We have a right to drive around our tanks at low cost.

  2. You'd think this would be an easy wedge issue move to play, but I'm sure the effing Blue Dogs will screw it up by playing for the wrong side again.

  3. Given the state of the GOP and the Democrats, it seems to me the question is: Can the Democrats snatch victory from the jaws of victory.

  4. And here's what the Obama administration was saying just a couple of weeks ago:

    Representatives from the Obama administration said they support eliminating the cap on liabilities for large operations, but do not feel it's needed retroactively.

    BP's public comments that it will not seek protection under the cap, plus the uncertainty that the cap would apply in the BP case anyway, makes a retroactive change unnecessary, the administration said.

    "We think we will be able to recover every single dime that's expended by the tax payers," Thomas Perrelli, Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department, told the panel.


    Too incompetent to demagogue well? Yeah, this gang can't shoot straight, and they can't even play the dumb-populist game well. What a bunch of idiots.

  5. BP's liability is already capped in one sense by that great Victorian invention to socialize risk, the limited liability corporation. (A real libertarian paradise has debtors' prisons.) The interesting question for my life insurance payout next year (interest declared), heavily dependent on the UK stock market, is whether BP's lawyers can manage to fence off the now practically worthless North American subsidiary or whether the UK parent is also crippled.

    It's odd thing that the blowout has not SFIK led to a market reassessment of the riskiness of oil companies in general, at least those that engage in deep-water exploration. Is BP seen as a corner-cutting rogue operator rather than as typical? Or are the markets betting on the emerging conservative position that oil pollution risks should be further socialized the way that those of financial engineering have been?

  6. As long as the shareholders don't escape their liability, I am fine with consumers paying the costs of spills. We should pay at least some of it, rather than taxpayers as a whole. We are partly culpable.

    I would just rather see us regulate enough that this never happens again, no matter how much it costs. We can't keep taking this planet for granted. It's time to start taxing carbon, even if we do a cap-and-trade thing too.

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