Late last month, President Obama’s commission investigating this summer’s devastating Gulf oil spill found that BP and its contractor Haliburton “knew weeks before the fatal explosion…that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job.” “There is no indication that Halliburton highlighted to BP the significance of the foam stability data or that BP personnel raised any questions about it,” the panel’s lead investigator wrote. Despite this finding, when asked about the spill on CBS’s Face the Nation yesterday, Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) came to BP’s defense, saying the Obama administration’s strong language towards BP “sends the wrong signal”:
PAUL: But I don’t think an American president should be talking about putting the boot heel on the throat of a corporation because it sends the wrong signal that the government is the enemy somehow of business. And we need to always recognize that one in 10 businesses succeeds. We need to do everything we can to encourage business because that’s where the jobs are created.
As host Bob Schieffer noted, this is not the first time that Paul has stuck up for the oil giant. This summer, he called the administration’s pressure on BP — a foreign company — to clean up the spill “un-American.” (In the Face the Nation interview, Paul admitted this was a “poor choice of words.”) Paul’s comments exemplify tea party Republicans’ blind hatred for government regulation of dangerous businesses like mining and oil drilling. In August, Paul suggested that mine safety regulations were uncessary because the free market would take care of the problem — “no one will apply” for jobs at dangerous mines, he naively explained. Of course, those comments followed a disaster at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia — which had been cited with thousands of safety violations — where 29 workers were killed in April.