Read it all for a better explanation of the details.By ERICA WERNERWASHINGTON – To hear Obama administration officials tell it, they've been fully engaged on the Gulf Coast oil spill since Day One, bringing every resource to bear and able to ensure without question that taxpayers will be protected.Not quite.Take President Barack Obama's repeated claims that BP will be responsible for all the costs associated with the devastating spill that began after an oil rig operated by the company exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and later sinking."Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak; BP will be paying the bill," Obama said while touring the area Sunday.While it's true that the federal Oil Pollution Act, enacted in 1990 in response to the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, makes BP responsible for cleanup costs, the law caps the company's liability for economic damages — such as lost wages, shortened fishing seasons or lagging tourism — at $75 million, a pittance compared to potential losses.Administration officials insist BP will be held responsible anyway, noting that if the company is found negligent or criminally liable, the cap disappears. Claims also can potentially be made under other state or federal laws, officials said.
Politico has this to say on the Oil Spill
White House in P.R. 'panic' over spill
By GLENN THRUSH & MIKE ALLEN
The ferocious oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening President Barack Obama’s reputation for competence, just as surely as it endangers the Gulf ecosystem.
So White House aides are escalating their efforts to reassure Congress and the public in the face of a slow-motion catastrophe, even though it’s not clear they can bring it under control anytime soon.
“There is no good answer to this,” one senior administration official said. “There is no readily apparent solution besides one that could take three months. ... If it doesn’t show the impotence of the government, it shows the limits of the government.”
Hope and change was Obama’s headline message in 2008, but those atop his campaign have always said that it was Obama’s cool competence — exemplified by his level-headed handling of the financial meltdown during the campaign’s waning days — that sealed the deal with independents and skeptical Democrats. The promise of rational, responsive and efficient government is Obama’s brand, his justification for bigger and bolder federal interventions and, ultimately, his rationale for a second term.
So there was a “little bit of panic,” according to one administration official, when White House aides sensed the oil spill narrative getting away from them last week. The White House was particularly alarmed by the rash of stories comparing the Obama administration’s initial response with President George W. Bush’s sluggish response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.