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Chamber Of Commerce Says Taxpayers Should Help Pay For BP Spill Cleanup; GOP Leader Agrees, Then Recants

Boehner Oil Spill

First Posted: 06/10/10 02:56 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:45 PM ET

Hey there, Americans! I'm sure, by now, many of you have had some time to reflect on the massive, unfolding Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and thought to yourselves, "My, that really is a terrible, apocalyptic cock-up!" But have you gone so far as to think to yourself, "My, that really is a terrible, apocalyptic cock-up, the costs of which I should logically be burdened with, because I am responsible for everything that happened?" No? Well, you should maybe start thinking that way, because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce thinks you should!

You know, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce typically doesn't put itself out there as a big fan of socialism. But that all changes when we're talking about risk and liability. In those cases, they love socialism to death! And that's basically how Chamber President Tom Donohue is framing his call to put a greater share of the oil spill price tag on you and me:

"It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game," said Tom Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. ". . . 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."

Yes, now is the time for America to come together and demonstrate some communitarian pluck in response to the time that all of us collectively decided that BP should cut corners, blow up their oil rig, and cause a massive disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

House Minority Leader John Boehner cosigns this call for collective responsibility:

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.

That's from TPM's Brian Beutler, who very helpfully points out that this is one of those times when the words "federal government" is used as a euphemism for "American taxpayers."

HuffPost asked Boehner's office to confirm his support of the Chamber's position, and Boehner spokesman Michael Steel seemed to recant: "Boehner made a general statement about who is responsible for the spill, and the federal government oversight was clearly lacking, but he has said repeatedly that BP is responsible for the cost of the cleanup."

But it's worth noting that Boehner's "general statement" came in response to a very specific question from Beutler: "Do you agree with Tom Donohue of the Chamber that the government and taxpayers should pitch in to clean up the oil spill?"

In any case -- wow, it seems like only a couple of years ago that then Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden was pretty roundly mocked for suggesting that paying taxes in support of the common weal was an act of patriotism. I guess a lot has changed since then!

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