A Right Way and A Wrong Way to Hold BP Responsible

Recently there has been quite a furor over the $20 billion dollar compensation fund set up by BP to help the victims of the Gulf Oil Spill. Republican Congressman Joe Barton started the controversy with a statement apologizing to BP for the way the government created the fund. He quickly retracted that apology, and he certainly should have. The American people owe no apology to BP.

But I do have concerns over the creation and handling of the fund. First of all, we need to get the help to the residents of the Gulf now – not when some bureaucrat sitting in Washington or New York decides to approve payments. I find it especially troubling when I hear a public official say, well we will pay these legitimate claims within 90 days. The people of the Gulf who need our help don’t have 90 days. Most of these hard working Americans live week to week. Their families need to be fed and clothed, their mortgage, car, truck, and utility payments can’t wait.

There is no dispute from anyone that this oil spill is a real disaster and that BP should have to pick up the tab for everything connected with their negligence, whether it is criminal or civil. I am more than willing to let the Courts ultimately sort out which claims are legitimate and which ones are not. That is the beauty of our system. We remain a nation of laws. We don’t throw away the Constitution or the laws we follow at the first sign of a crisis.

So, let’s use our good old American ingenuity to figure out how to provide emergency funds to the people of the Gulf and sort out the whys and hows later. But let’s do it according to our Constitution and our laws. We must demand nothing less.

Cross posted at Tom Ganley.com