June 20, 2010

On Fox’s The Journal Editorial Report, while discussing whether the panel believes that BP really had a choice as to whether to put up the $20 billion for the escrow fund to pay for the claims from the Deepwater Horizon disaster rather than the victims being tied up in the courts for years or waiting for BP to decide who to pay claims to, John Fund opines that BP being prodded by the Obama administration to put up that fund is going to turn the United States into a “banana republic” and repeats the Republican meme of the week that it was a “shakedown”.

It’s too bad Mr. Fund isn’t quite so concerned that years of conservative governance have turned us into a plutocracy or an oligarchy already, either of which would better describe what has happened to our government as our middle class in the United States continues to disappear and the gap between the rich and the poor grows even wider.

Expecting companies to clean up their mess does seem to suddenly get the right wingers worried about the expansion of government power; those same companies socializing the losses onto the taxpayers… not so much.

Fund: It’s almost as if we have different models of how you nationalize a company. There’s the original model with General Motors and Chrysler and now there’s a new model which is if you get into any kind of trouble, you know, the next Toyota for example, you’re going to basically face such liability that the Federal government is effectively going to own your future.

Gigot: Well does this mean that in any… is this setting a precedent that in any future large scale industrial accident that this kind of pubic trust fund where a company is obliged to put money into the fund and then the government will decide who gets paid and when; is that what we’re going to see from now on?

Fund: That’s a danger. Remember one of the reasons so many investors overseas have contributed to the American economy for so long is we have a rule of law here. It’s due process. Well this effectively says to foreign investors, forget the rule of law. Joe Barton basically, you know, came out against this $20 billion….

Gigot: He called it a shakedown.

Fund: …a shakedown, and…

Gigot: Is that what it is? Is this a shakedown?

Fund: You’d better believe it’s a shakedown. This completely goes around the legal process. The message this sends to foreign investors, be careful here because the United States can resemble a banana republic overnight with the wrong President in charge.

Of course all of them are very concerned about the rule of law being followed, as long as that rule of law makes sure that claims are slow walked through the courts and as long as we have the kind of justice where huge companies end up paying next to nothing once their friends on the Supreme Court finally take care of them decades later.

Fund's assertion that making BP fork out $20 billion is "nationalizing" them is completely ridiculous as well. As Think Progress noted, "in the first quarter of the year, the London-based oil giant’s profits averaged $93 million a day".

And for a little reminder of what these hacks are advocating for from the same post:

At $93 million a day in profits, BP makes $350 million in about 3.8 days. The Washington Post noted that Exxon, through a decision by the Supreme Court, was able to pay only $507.5 million of the original $5 billion in punitive damages that it had been assessed for the 1989 Valdez disaster.

There's the kind of "rule of law" that they would prefer.

h/t Media Matters

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