Why Aren’t Tea Parties Demanding That The Government Hold BP Accountable On Behalf Of Taxpayers?

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"Why Aren’t Tea Parties Demanding That The Government Hold BP Accountable On Behalf Of Taxpayers?"

teab Tea Party activists’ self-proclaimed mission is to demand lower taxes. TEA, in fact, stands for Taxed Enough Already. As a part of this anti-tax crusade, the Tea Party has vehemently opposed comprehensive health reform, clean energy legislation, and even mandatory garbage collection.

Given that these protesters take their name from the Boston Tea Party, which was organized around protesting an unfair tax benefit given to a massive British corporation, and that British oil giant BP’s oil disaster could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars, you’d think that Tea Partiers would be demanding that the government hold BP accountable and make the corporation pay the full costs for its bad behavior, so that taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill.

Yet the Tea Partiers haven’t descended on BP’s headquarters or marched on Capitol Hill demanding, for example, that the government lift the $75 million oil spill liability cap on BP so that the damages it pays aren’t severely limited. On the contrary, they’ve attacked President Obama for securing a $20 billion escrow fund from BP to recompense victims of its oil spill and cozied up to politicians who’ve sided with BP. As the Associated Press noted last week, “Tea Party candidates [have stood] by BP to rail against President Obama.” Here are just a few examples of Tea Party organizers and Tea Party-endorsed politicians siding with the foreign oil giant against American taxpayers:

– Republican Study Committee chair Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who headlined a Tax Day tea party in the nation’s capitol this year, derided the escrow fund as “Chicago-style shakedown politics.” [6/16/10]

— Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who has proudly boasted of supporting the “Tea Party movement and the people getting involved,” echoed Price’s language as he apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayword for the White House’s “shakedown” it performed while trying to hold his company accountable. [6/17/10]

— Conservative talk show host and chairman of the Tea Party Express Mark Williams compared Obama’s efforts to secure the escrow fund to those of “mobsters,” and added that where he comes “from, they call it extortion.” [6/21/10]

— The “tea party favorite” in the Oklahoma GOP gubenatorial primary, state senator Randy Brogdon, said that BP’s oil disaster was “a perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector,” while blasting efforts to properly regulate the foreign oil giant so that it couldn’t cause more devastation in the future. [6/21/10]

Without tough government action to make sure that BP pays for the own costs of its own disaster and doesn’t drop the tab on taxpayers — as leading right-wing figures like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue and House minority leader John Boehner (OH) have suggested — it is likely that the oil company will get off easy, much like Exxon did following its own oil disaster two decades ago.

If Tea Partiers truly want to defend taxpayers from facing undue burdens, it may be time for them to don their signs and demand that BP pay for the entire cost of its own disaster by lifting the oil spill liability cap and ask that the government end billions of dollars in special tax breaks for Big Oil (just as the original tea partiers wanted to end the tax advantages of the British East India Trading Company).

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