A week ago, U.S. Senate candidate Mike Lee sat down with the Salt Lake Tribune’s Robert Gehrke for a wide-ranging interview. When asked if taxpayers ought to pay the economic costs of the BP oil spill, Lee answered candidly.
SL TRIBUNE: Currently there’s a cap on liabilities that BP is expected to pay $75 million dollars. There’s legislation that Bill Nelson sponsored to increase that liability to $10 billion dollars. The oil companies say that will put them out of business. Is that something you would be supportive of, increasing that cap on liability for environmental damage?
MIKE LEE: No.
SL TRIBUNE: Why is that?
LEE: This company is reliant, the entire industry, is reliant on the insurance its provided by law. Now had that cap not been in place, we would be facing a completely different question. But you have a set of settled expectations that you give to a business when it decides to make an investment in this. Our country benefits from this type of activity and allows us to produce more oil and allows more of our petro dollars to remain in the United States. We’ve relied on that, and to take that away I think would be a mistake.
SL TRIBUNE: Does that leave taxpayers on the hook for part of the damage?
LEE: Well yea probably does. And the government can look at that and say look, we put this damages cap in place, so we understood what that meant.
SL TRIBUNE: Isn’t that equivalent to a bailout?
LEE: I don’t think, well, I don’t think that’s equivalent to a bailout. I think that’s the government saying there’s some things its going to — if you look at the Outer Continental Shelf, something over which the United States has jurisdiction, and the United State wants to clean that up, then it’s free to do so. There’s nothing in that liability cap that requires the Federal government to do it. Well I’m not sure that necessarily means the taxpayers will end up paying the bill. It maybe the industry generally will just contribute to it. In fact I would expect other people involved in offshore drilling will have a part of the clean up because they would want to to show this can be done safely and when disasters do happen it can be cleaned up.
Mike Lee’s philosophy is what I call “Wall Street Socialism.” Corporations want to privatize their profits and socialize their losses (or simply dump negative externalities like oil spills on the public). Bumper-sticker version: “Taxpayer Bailouts for Billionaires.”
Vote for Sam Granato, or else this guy will be our new senator.