Thursday, June 17, 2010

Joe Barton and BP

In a congressional hearing Joe Barton called the meeting the President had with the CEO of BP a "shakedown" as a result of the promise that the President extracted to escrow $20 billion to pay claims.  In the hearing Barton was careful to make several disclaimers before he offered up the term - primarily he said he was speaking for himself.   From my perspective there are two questions here.

First, did Barton use excessive rhetoric?  Shakedown might not be appropriate in the current over-heated environment (not globally warmed environment, by the way) of DC.  Courtesy begins by being a bit more respectful of the players in the process.

But Second, should someone point out that a looks a wee bit inappropriate for the President of the US and the chief legal officer of the country (who is currently pursuing civil and criminal charges against BP) to invite the CEO into the office for a chat and deposit.   This, is awfully close to the standard of a bill of attainder, which after all is prohibited by the Constitution.  (At least for the Congress.)  Ultimately a competent AG might point out that there are some conflicts of interest in doing these kinds of interventions.

The President would argue that he was just trying to protect the people who have been hurt.  In a governmental system were powers are limited, these kinds of justifications are off base.  There are always right and wrong ways to do things.  And in this case the President and his AG did not do it correctly.    Barton recognized his excess, I am not sure the President recognizes the perils of his approach for our economic system.

No comments: