Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Biden angrily responds to Barton: It’s not a ‘shakedown’ to insist BP takes care of people who are ‘drowning.’

By Amanda Terkel  

"Biden angrily responds to Barton: It’s not a ‘shakedown’ to insist BP takes care of people who are ‘drowning.’"

Share:

google plus icon

Vice President Biden stopped by today’s White House press briefing to talk about the Recovery Act. While there, however, reporters encouraged him address Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) apology to BP for the fact that the Obama administration is making the company set up a fund to pay individuals and businesses that are suffering because of the oil spill. Biden angrily responded to Barton, calling his comments “astonishing” and “outrageous”:

BIDEN: There’s an entire way of life in jeopardy. This is just not about jobs. This is just not about whether or not the waterfowl is polluted and you can’t — this is an entire way of life that’s in jeopardy. And to sit there and say that we’re being — in effect, as I understood the statement — that he was ashamed we’re being tough on an oil company who caused the problem — I mean, I — look, I just think that it’s pretty important to the people of Louisiana all the way through Florida and even in his home state of Texas that people disassociate themselves from that.

That’s not the role — there’s no shakedown. It’s insisting on responsible conduct and a responsible response to something they caused. And I find it outrageous to suggest that if, in fact, we insisted that BP demonstrate their preparedness, to put aside billions of dollars — in this case, $20 billion — to take care of the immediate needs of people who are drowning — these guys don’t have deep pockets. The guy who runs the local marina, the guy who has one shrimping boat, the guy who has one small business — he can’t afford to lose $10,000, $12,000, $15,000, $30,000 a month. [...]

What is wrong with that? How is that a shakedown? I mean, I just — I don’t know, I find it pretty astounding, the comment.

Watch it:

Transcript:

Q Vice President Biden, you said this is pretty much basic, and you said there’s still millions of Americans who believe that they’re in a depression still. Do you — with that, do you believe there should be targeted approaches for minorities, particularly African Americans, as well as Hispanics and even teens, when it comes to the unemployment rate?

And also, on another subject, what are your thoughts about Mr. Barton’s comments this morning?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, since you know I never say what’s on my mind — (laughter) — I probably shouldn’t comment on Mr. Barton’s comment.

Q Oh, come on.

Q Please –

Q Is it that bad?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: They’re encouraging me, what can I say? (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: Well, okay, you should –

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Look, look — (laughter.)

Q How big of a deal was it? (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank God my mother wasn’t around. (Laughter.) Look, guys, I find it incredibly insensitive, incredibly out of touch. The reason why I got involved in politics, the reason why the President and I ran, the President got involved, is the one primary role for government is to protect people who are being taken advantage of; protect people who are in an extreme straits and not able to take care of the circumstances themselves.

I’ve been down in the bayou area off and on for the last 36 years. My daughter went down to Tulane — I was worried she was not going to come home. I think I know the area relatively well as an outsider. There’s an entire way of life in jeopardy. This is just not about jobs. This is just not about whether or not the waterfowl is polluted and you can’t — this is an entire way of life that’s in jeopardy. And to sit there and say that we’re being — in effect, as I understood the statement — that he was ashamed we’re being tough on an oil company who caused the problem — I mean, I — look, I just think that it’s pretty important to the people of Louisiana all the way through Florida and even in his home state of Texas that people disassociate themselves from that.

That’s not the role — there’s no shakedown. It’s insisting on responsible conduct and a responsible response to something they caused. And I find it outrageous to suggest that if, in fact, we insisted that BP demonstrate their preparedness, to put aside billions of dollars — in this case, $20 billion — to take care of the immediate needs of people who are drowning — these guys don’t have deep pockets. The guy who runs the local marina, the guy who has one shrimping boat, the guy who has one small business — he can’t afford to lose $10,000, $12,000, $15,000, $30,000 a month.

And so the thing the President did — and I was so proud of him — is when we had the meeting with BP — and they were cooperative in the meeting. They were cooperative. He said, look, what I want you to do is take care of those people now who, if they don’t get help now, are going to be under, gone. Gone.

And I might add, this fund is not a ceiling, and people can go back to it as many times as they can prove they have been damaged and they need help. And the cleanup costs are all BP’s costs, separate, apart and above that $20 billion.

What is wrong with that? How is that a shakedown? I mean, I just — I don’t know, I find it pretty astounding, the comment.

‹ Labor Board Hobbled By Senate Obstruction Has Hundreds Of Cases Invalidated By Supreme Court

ThinkFast: June 18, 2010 ›

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the ThinkProgress Privacy Policy and agree to the ThinkProgress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.