Spill Blame Game Continues

Todd Shriber
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Mercifully, BP appears to have made some progress on capping the leaking Macondo well. Hopefully, the company's plans to use relief well in August will prove successful in permanently stopping the flow of oil in to the Gulf of Mexico. BP can also boast of some more positive news as it has been able to successfully sell a variety of assets, including $7 billion worth to Apache (APA), in an effort to raise cash to pay for its spill-related liabilities. There is still a long road to travel before this travesty moves to the back-burner, but for the first time in three months, it appears as though things are headed in the right direction.

Let's hope the trend continues because there are plenty of good reasons to move forward. Progress needs to be made so victims of the spill can be properly compensated and so thousands of jobs can be saved or created. Those are significant reasons to move forward, but progress on the spill also gives the White House and Congress time to do something productive (I'm not saying they will) because over the past three months, Washington's reaction to the spill has highlighted why so many voters are disappointed with the White House and ready to send plenty of members of Congress to the unemployment line.

The spill farce continued today on Capitol Hill with majority members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee employing a favorite tactic of this White House and Congress: Blame Bush. The committee's chairman said the Interior Department was ''off-duty for nearly a decade? under the previous regime. Blaming President Bush for the headwinds the U.S. faces on any number of fronts, economic or otherwise, is a card that has been overplayed by this administration and the majority party in Congress.

No matter what a voter's feelings are toward President Bush, blaming him for the Gulf oil spill is not productive and shows that many incumbents are grasping at straws to get reelected. Hopefully, voters see through this charade because the blame game is a regressive tactic and does nothing to better the situation in the Gulf.

Playing the blame card is a crap shoot because informed voters might realize that the minority party has not been inclined to do the same thing. Remember that when the economy was bad in the early 2000s, Democrats blamed President Bush for the loss of manufacturing jobs from states like the Carolinas, Ohio and West Virginia. The reality is those jobs started going overseas in the late 1990s and we all know who was in the White House then.

An even better example might be pointing the finger at the SEC for not doing anything about Bernie Madoff until it was too late. It has since been disclosed that various parties tried to tell the SEC about Madoff in the 1990s when Arthur Levitt was chairman. Levitt was widely praised as an effective SEC leader, yet no one wants to hold his feet to the fire regarding Madoff.

The point is blaming Levitt for the Madoff fiasco would not be productive, just as blaming George Bush for BP's (BP) antics would be an equal waste of time. November is right around the corner. Members of Congress should look at the calendar and find ways to better spend their time or they will have plenty of free time of their own come January.