Jim Huffman appears to be following a script drafted by the most extreme elements of the Republican party.
Yesterday, the blogosphere was lit up by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking Republican on the House Energy Committee, when he used an appearance by BP CEO Tony Haywood to apologize to BP for the President’s negotiated agreement with BP to set aside $20 billion of funds in escrow to use in paying claims.
For those who didn’t see it, video can be found here.
Within hours, Barton had apologized for his apology – after facing a furious firestorm of protests for portraying BP as the victim.
What’s received less attention is that Barton wasn’t alone in standing up for BP and against the residents of the Gulf Coast and Oregon’s own Jim Huffman joined in the chorus.
Other notable Republicans who said virtually identical things to Barton just yesterday included:
former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- the settlement fund is "socialism"
Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minnesota) -- the settlement fund is a “redistribution of wealth fund.”
The House Republican Study Group -- settlement fund a “politicization of our economy”
Missisippi Governor Haley Barbour -- BP fund a mistake because BP needs to invest that $20 billion in more oil rigs.
And yes, here in Oregon, the Republican standard-bearer in the US Senate race, Jim Huffman, joined in the cause. Huffman suggested at a Republican rally in Medford that Obama exceeded his Constitutional authority in negotiating the fund.
On its face, Huffman’s Constitutional claim is ridiculous hyperbole.
BP has already admitted liability; it just needs to settle upon an amount, a determination of to whom, and a system for payment. The Department of Justice is going to launch a case against it – it’s just a matter of time.
Of course it’s Constitutional for the federal government in that instance to negotiate with the defendant and set up a system for payments prior to launching the actual case.
Huffman’s statement is also politically tone deaf. The public is clamoring for stronger action against BP. Huffman is hardly going to make inroads against Wyden with such an extreme viewpoint.