June 17, 2010

Wait, who pays for laid off oil rig workers?

After meeting with President Obama, BP agreed to set aside a special $100 million to compensate oil workers laid off as a result of President Obama's six month moratorium on deep water drilling. Why does it feel more and more like the United States is operating at the whims of an emperor?

BP has the lion's share of culpability in the oil spill and resulting environmental damage, although not the sole share. But the decision to halt all deep water drilling for six months was President Obama's. BP is already going to set aside a $20 billion general fund. Is not the setting aside of an additional, immediate $100 million simply piling on?  Why not spread the compensation for laid off workers across all the companies who are required to lay them off?

Or better yet, how about we lay the responsibility at the feet of the Democratic Party. After all it was a Democrat's decision to shut down everything. Even more specifically, shouldn't President Obama be responsible for those costs? It was his decision. The buck stops with him. Actions have consequences.  BP's consequences will be forthcoming. But the layoffs are a result of President Obama's decisions. Deep water rigs that are not spewing oil into the ocean are being shut down because of an Obama pronouncement.

We now have a situation where BP will be paying compensation to employees of its competitors. If it was only BP maybe the President would have a case to make. But this is strikingly predatory of the federal government. It's almost as if they want to drive BP into insolvency. And if BP goes bankrupt as some environmental zealots would no doubt love to see, who gets stuck with the tab for that $20 billion escrow if it isn't fully funded yet? Taxpayers.

In an environment where many are likely to feel vindictive towards BP, the President is being opportunistic in being punitive with the company. BP has consequences to face for its actions. Apparently the government is exempt from that sort of consideration.

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