What a guy... John Boehner, man of the little people. I guess Republicans only like bailouts when they're for multi-billion dollar foreign oil companies. After realizing he stepped in it, it John Boehner is now walking back his comment that the taxpayers should help bailout BP.
Congressional Democrats and the White House are toying with different ways to force BP to cover the costs of damages from the Gulf oil spill. But they face stiff opposition from industry...and it seems leading Republicans. In response to a question from TPMDC, House Minority Leader John Boehner said he believes taxpayers should help pick up the tab for the clean up.
"I think the people responsible in the oil spill--BP and the federal government--should take full responsibility for what's happening there," Boehner said at his weekly press conference this morning.
Boehner's statement followed comments last Friday by US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue who said he opposes efforts to stick BP, a member of the Chamber, with the bill. "It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game," he said. "Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up. We are all going to have to do it. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies and we will figure out a way to do that."
And then the backtrack. Boehner spox: No taxpayer money on Gulf spill cleanup or damages:
House GOP leader John Boehner does not believe any taxpayer money should be spent on the cleanup of the Gulf spill or on any damages caused by it, his spokesman confirms to me.
"No taxpayer money for cleanup or damages -- period. BP pays," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel emails.
...Boehner's office subsequently clarified, saying he'd misheard the question. His aides pointed to this previous Boehner quote: "Not a dime of taxpayer money should be used to clean up their mess." And Boehner has also said we must "hold BP accountable for the clean up costs."
Those quotes are pretty clear. But the problem is that the Chamber's position is that while BP is on the hook for the cleanup, its liability for damages should be limited, meaning inevitably that taxpayers should bear some of that liability.
...Perhaps, but the distinction between cleanup and damages is clearly important to the Chamber and to BP. Boehner's office, however, insists that his position on this has been clear throughout.
Either way, asked for more clarification, Boehner spokesman Steel says that when Boehner said no taxpayer money should be spent on the cleanup, that does also include damages.
"No taxpayer money for cleanup or damages -- period," Steel emailed. "BP pays. If the current law doesn't guarantee that, we are happy to work in a bipartisan way on reasonable new legislation."
Who wants to take a bet Boehner and the Republicans still won't vote for lifting the cap on damages? Olbermann reports BP is also desperate to protect their stock prices. As he noted it's too bad they're not attacking stopping the oil destroying the Gulf with the same amount of concern.
BP is seeking a deal with the White House under which it would sacrifice its dividend in return for a calming of the political hysteria over the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
Chief executive Tony Hayward will proffer the olive branch in meetings over the coming days in the hope of quelling the increasingly vicious invective in Washington.
Options include scrapping the payout for one quarter or until the Macondo well is capped; putting the payment in 'escrow' - i.e. deferring it - until BP's liabilities are clearer; or paying it in shares rather than cash. Read on...