Republicans Scream for Obama to Take Over Private Sector
In calling the BP oil spill “Obama’s Katrina”; conservatives infer that the President did not act fast enough. However, not only has this meme been debunked, but it goes to the central hypocrisy of the current conservative moment, whose only consistent value is to oppose Obama in order to destroy his Presidency. Conservatives are attempting to foist all responsibility for the clean up of the private sector caused oil spill onto the President. In fact, the conservative effort to label this as Obama’s Katrina represents the Conservative endorsement of socialism.
Obama originally voted against expansion of off-shore drilling as a senator, though he did signal his willingness to compromise on the issue if it could be tackled in an environmentally sensitive manner, in order to achieve a comprehensive energy policy that could bring down gas prices.
Later, as President, Obama broke his campaign promise to retain the moratorium on off-shore drilling in a horse trade with Republicans in order to get a broader climate change bill through Congress.
“Obama said the decision to allow oil rigs off the Atlantic coast was a painful one, but that it would help reduce US dependence on imported oil.”
“This is not a decision that I’ve made lightly,” the president said. “But the bottom line is this: given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we’re going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy.”
Clearly, these are not the words or actions of a man who embraced “Drill, Baby Drill” as an entire energy platform and yet conservatives are rushing to blame him for the tragic BP spill. Obama begrudgingly embraced their energy policy in order to get votes for his environmentally friendly energy policy. If you’re waiting for their ownership of the problems inherent in Drill, Baby, Drill, you’ll be waiting a long time because once again, instead of reasonable debate about the issues, we’re being treated to the screech and blame game.
The facts are that the spill appears to be a result of massive safety deregulation for oil rigs.
Obama is a Democratic President who believes government plays a role in the lives of the people; hence he has accepted this responsibility (while noting that BP will pay for the clean-up). However, this notion that government has a role to play is a value that Conservatives do not share. In fact, they want the government out of everything these days. So why do they suddenly want to hold the federal government accountable for the private sector?
Conservatives and in particular Teabaggers have been accusing the President of “socializing” private sector business both through health care reform and the Bush bail-outs (yes, I know). So, they are supposedly against socialization as they define it, which would be government having any role in the lives of the people and government interfering in private business. In the past, conservatives stood for free market principles but the modern day conservative movement has taken this to an extreme, which now includes careless and ruthless deregulation in addition to the notion that corporations rights to make a profit automatically override civil rights, workers rights and social justice.
Given these principles, it is manifestly hypocritical and disingenuous for them to be screaming that Obama is responsible at all for the BP clean up the oil spill, especially since it was Republican President George W. Bush who signed off on lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling in 2008. Furthermore, in suggesting that Obama allowed this to happen, they are saying that regulations and oversight should have been in place to avoid this.
Thus, conservatives are arguing that government has a role to play in our lives, which goes against the very tenets of modern day conservatism. Were they to stay true to their principles, they would be upset that federal money was being spent to help BP clean up after their own accident, an accident which they would defend as the cost of “energy independence” (never mind that the concept of energy independence being solely defined as drilling here and drilling now is patently absurd). Free market principles would dictate that BP would fail as a result of their own irresponsibility, not that Obama would bail them out.
The facts are that the energy lobbyists have been recklessly and systematically deregulating their industry for the last 15 years. Deregulation is a free market value, which is a conservative value.
In a sane world, reasonable oversight and regulation would be balanced with free market principles. But the conservatives have abandoned all of their principles in in the Neo-con push for Profit as King and indeed, their effort to derail the Obama presidency. The irony is that in pushing for no oversight, they’ve created companies that will fail. When Profit is King, safety, accountability and honesty are pushed aside, as without any reason to protect their reputations even, companies will continue to feed their bottom line first. The possibility of bad PR for many of these companies should have been the mitigating factor in a free market economy, and yet they are largely protected from bad PR by the modern day conservatives’ notion of socializing the downside for the private sector.
When these companies fail as BP did, conservatives are now pushing for the Democratic president who votes AGAINST off shore drilling to clean up after their private sector mess. In other words, in calling BP’s massive oil spill “Obama’s Katrina”, conservatives are once again socializing the down side of their free market ideology.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.