June 15th, 2010
03:11 PM ET
11 years ago

Republicans accuse Obama of 'exploiting' oil

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/15/art.oilinwater.jpg caption="Congressional Republicans accused the President and his allies in Congress Tuesday of 'exploiting' the disaster in the Gulf."]Washington (CNN) - As President Obama prepared for a primetime address on the oil spill and Democrats presided over a hearing on Capitol Hill with oil company CEOs, Congressional Republicans accused the President and his allies in Congress Tuesday of "exploiting" the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to push for their comprehensive energy legislation. GOP leaders argue the Democrats' proposals would have a devastating impact on the struggling U.S. economy.

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence told reporters, "The American people expect that this Administration will not use this opportunity to advance their liberal agenda."

Pence added, "We won't cap that well with cap and trade," referring to Democratic legislation to reduce and limit carbon emissions.

Echoing the same message from the Senate floor, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, said, "While American livelihoods are in immediate danger and we watch oil gush into our waters and wash up on our beaches, now is not the time to push ideology, but to fix the problem."

But as the GOP warned Democrats against linking the oil spill with their proposals to realign U.S. energy policy–by focusing less on domestic oil production, and more on alternative sources of energy–the key authors of the climate change bill that passed the House narrowly last summer, were doing just that.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-California, argued at the hearing featuring top oil company executives, "Congress needs to review the evidence and pass new laws that put teeth into our regulatory system. But we cannot stop there. Our national energy policy is broken. We're addicted to oil, and this addiction is fouling our beaches, polluting our atmosphere and undermining our national security."

Another leading proponent of climate change legislation, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey, said, "America must move to a safer, clean energy future so that we don't have to rely as much on oil to power our cars and our economy."

Michigan Republican Fred Upton, tried to head off any attempt by Democrats to use the hearing to push for their energy bill, which is still awaiting action in the Senate. Upton said he was "disheartened to learn that a few of the questions have nothing to do with the disaster that we're trying to solve and serve the sole purpose of scoring political points and trying to advance an unrelated policy agenda that will raise taxes, eliminate American jobs and leave consumers already struggling in this down economy with high energy costs."

Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise, who represents an area along the Gulf that still reeling from the impact of the spill, ripped into President Obama, "We must figure out what went wrong to prevent this kind of disaster from happening again in the future but the President is now exploiting our disaster as a political opportunity to advance his radical agenda that will kill more American jobs."

Filed under: Congress • GOP • President Obama
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. tjaman

    Look, if they are too stupid to see a connection between what's going on with BP and the Gulf and a desperate need in this country for a laser-like focus on renewable energy sources, the voters need to FIRE these pinheads - preferably from a CANNON!

    June 15, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. patNY

    What Republicans call exploiting oil to get regulations on oil and green house gasses, the rest of us call it, "we told you so!"

    June 15, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. Too True For You

    House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence told reporters, "The American people expect that this Administration will not use this opportunity to advance their liberal agenda."

    Umm...just like republicans didn't use the lie "weapons of mass destruction" to send thousands of Americans to their deaths? Or to roll back our rights to personal privacy? Or to massively increase the power of the presidency? Or to create the most one sided judiciary we have seen in generations? Or to attack ANY difference of opinion as unpatriotic? Or to constantly exercise scare tactics on the American public for whatever cause conservatives pulled out of their puckered little butts?

    Hey, you "drill, baby drill" dingbats, you created this mess with your drill anytime anywhere at any price attitudes wrapped up in a sanctimoniously thin veil of American oil independence. Why on Earth can't this administration point out your duplicity and exercise the exact same tactics you perfected over 8 years of misrule?

    June 15, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  4. ZacATL

    My god is the GOP tone deaf? Obama is "exploiting" the disaster? Have they been ignoring all the "Obama needs to kick some @ss!" commentaries?

    Let's face it, most of our oil is going to come from oil rich/poor countries like Nigeria anyway. We can't drill ourselves to energy independence.

    However, we have had technical superiority. Too bad we've let that advantage in alternative energy slip through our fingertips to make oil companies happy. Now all the jobs that SHOULD have been in America are already overseas in Germany, China, and Japan.

    Republicans cry "Higher taxes! Crippling economy! Job killing!" Oops, too late. A stubborn reliance on a 100+ year old technology will do that to you.

    June 15, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  5. rs

    Further proof that Republicans do not exist without the oil industry. After this event BP should be driven out of business, and every oil company heavily regulated. Remember George 'n Dick were oil boys!

    June 15, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Of course they do.

    If Obama pushes strong on this issue he is using it for political purposes

    If Obama pulls back, he is weak.

    If Obama stays the same, he is wishywashy.

    We get it. The Republicans don't like Obama.

    I would be more interested in how the democrats feel about Obama in this issue.

    June 15, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. sine

    Is it possible for us to take the oil from the gulf and pour it over every single republican so they can shut up!! I'm just tired of the name calling and bickering.....if you don't want to hop on the 'future' train because you have an agenda as a party it's to bad for you. American people have been held hostage to bickering from both political side.....WE NEED A NEW ENERGY POLICY. period!!

    June 15, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. West TN

    Republicans accuse the President of "exploiting" the "spill". That's the best the GOP has? How about this for an opposing thought: "After a decade of rampant deregulation, cronyism, and big business favoritism brought on by the GOP leaders and their elitist polices, President Obama jumps from one screwed up mess to another trying to fix what someone else broke" ?
    Or, a future headline from November 2010..."Democrats mop floor with lunatic fringe right winger Republicans."
    I would listen to the GOP, but I hear no solution whatsoever that doesn't support the status quo. Maybe after another trouncing or two they will learn.

    June 15, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. Roy

    Obama exploiting this disaster? Not only are the Republicans desperate but also touched in the head, to put it mildly. What's next, saying Obama is exploiting the taxpayers by having his mother-in-law live in the White House? I wouldn't put it past the Republicans. Embarrassing they are for our nation and culture. Just plain embarrassing. (Remember "Freedom Fries" during the Bush term? And currently just about anything Palin says?)

    June 15, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. BeanTown Bully

    The fact that THE PEOPLE elected President Obama seems to be a fact missed by the GOP. Calling him " the most radical" this or that, when he promised he would do all these things on the campaign trail. Were they not listening? What else needs to happen for the GOP to realize that 20th century technology or ideology has no place in 21st century commerce or life..... Someone should have them join us in our march to the future........ Idiots!!!!!

    June 15, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. anthony


    Do these guys EVER give it a rest. Nothing Obama does will ever satisfy them. Period. And the country is now painfully aware of this.
    Instead of trying to work with the man, they just continue to look for mud to sling.
    Well in this case, oil to spill.


    June 15, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  12. Jack

    What is wrong with these idiots. These Republicans are the ones exploiting this disaster to stop any energy reform program. They want all discussion of energy shelved until the leak is stopped and the beaches cleaned up. Don't they know the word "multitask?" You don't do just one thing at time. Not as President. You manage the leak and cleanup, two wars, the economy, jobs, healthcare reforem, environment, and yes–energy reform. You don't just stop doing other things because there is a crisis. Mean spirited (shall I say unchristian?) obstructionists.

    June 15, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "an unrelated policy agenda that will raise taxes, eliminate American jobs and leave consumers already struggling in this down economy with high energy costs."

    Does he get a cookie for stringing four lies together like that?

    1. "Unrelated policy agenda." Actually, given the clear connections between accelerating climate change, increased incidence of drastic natural events and carbon emissions and the effect of other man-made pollutants on the weather cycle, etc...all indicated virtually unanimously by the world's top scientists...it's about as related as it gets without having to actually watch the crowning and then cut the umbilical cord yourself to know that one birthed the other.

    2. "raise taxes." How? Initiatives to encourage growth of industries to compete with Big Oil et al. don't necessarily lead to increased taxes. This is just knee-jerk ideologue-speak for "I don't have any clear idea what I'm talking about, but I want you to be scared and very angry." Why don't we talk about the increase in taxes that isn't just an ideological threat, but a 100% reality: if the GOP gets its way and blocks retroactive repeal of the $75M damage cap, GUESS WHO IS PAYING FOR THE REST OF THE CLEAN UP AND DAMAGES. Hmmmm? One guess. Go.

    3. "eliminate America jobs." Last I checked, BP's oil spill, resulting from deregulation and industry-government inbreeding, has potentially cost the Gulf states untold numbers of jobs and potentially ruined the careers of many a fisherman, tourist industry entrepreneur, etc....nay, potentially destroyed entire industries down there.

    4. "high energy costs." A study by reputable MIT scientists (I know, scary science crap that you can't disprove with ideology, eh GOPers?) already showed that if cap and trade were to be enacted as proposed several months ago, it would result in an AVERAGE cost per household PER YEAR of approximately $340 total, which would then could be 100% off-set by various means. Boehner then earned a letter from these scientists reprimanding him for publicly claiming that their study found it would increase household costs per year by ten times that much. Both the study's results and the letter to Boehner are easily found online.

    June 15, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. TC

    Everyone is asking the questions they know the answer to. What went wrong is MMS did not enforce regulations on B-P and B-P didn't give a damn. All the GOP can do is play politics, that's all they know.. They don't know how to govern only how to campaign and politic. I am so angry that the GOP is turning this into a political thing when frankly the President has not in my oppionion pushed new regulation harder. The GOP is pathetic. Not offering any solutions or comming together in a time a crisis but trying to make this all about Pres. Obama. I can't understand why the media and Americans don't call them on this. But then again the Tea Party people got 24/7 coverage at a rally of about 2,000, while over 100,000 at the same time rallied for immigration reform and barely got onto the scoll at the bottom of the screne. Maybe the mayans were right about 2012 because it seems like people have lost their minds and the end is near!!!!!

    June 15, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. Greg

    If it takes a disaster to start a process that will take decades so be it. Meanwhile the Republicans criticize the POTUS's responses to anything and everything regarding the oil spill with hyperbole and no ideas other than the idiot who suggested nukes.

    June 15, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. Matt

    Oh give it a rest Republicans.
    It was your cozying up to big oil that cause the gulf coast crisis.

    June 15, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. Russ

    Exploting the oil spill, not the time to push Ideology? Mitch McConnell is dilusionary. There is no better time than now. The tragedy in the Gulf speaks for itself. The time is now to come up with better energy sources. And speak of Ideology.....the whole of the Republican agenda is based entirely on ideology, albeit a religious one that has no place in our government. Wake the hell up McConnell you hypocritcal moron.

    June 15, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    "While American livelihoods are in immediate danger and we watch oil gush into our waters and wash up on our beaches, now is not the time to push ideology, but to fix the problem."

    I must have missed were GOPers actually have laid out solutions for fixing the problem.

    I think I'll allow the Obama Administration to first research what went wrong before I blindly accuse him of exploiting our disaster.

    I do, however, understand the level of frustration coming from the right. It's not everyday a liberal gets the best of them.

    June 15, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. DIANA

    They've got to be kidding! No matter what this President does, they have something negative to say. Should his policy be like theirs – "Drill Baby Drill!".

    Weren't they the ones who exploited 9/11 in order to get us into this unnecessary war?

    June 15, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. BB

    Hey Republicans......REAP WHAT YOU SOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Cap and Trade!!! Energy Bill!!!!!! YES WE CAN!!!!!! YES WE WILL!!!!!!!!!
    DEAL WITH IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 15, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. Dave

    NO CAP AND TRADE!!!! Just look at what it is doing to Spain.

    June 15, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  22. Paul

    I am sick of hearing the two sides on the environmental debate. There is only one truth and we must all accept it. Climate change is a real danger to the future of us on this planet. Republicans and Senators Rockefeller and Byrd of W.Va. need to understand that. We put warning labels in tobacco products don't we? Using the argument that climate science is not exact is like saying the ciggs smoked in the 1950's were not harmful since no warning labels were attached. Don't believe the conservative propaganda.

    June 15, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Marlene

    I'm tired of the media saying "this is what the President should say". I'm tired of the GOP saying this is what the President should say. I'm tired of political pundits saying this is what the President should say. Why don't you all just listen to what the President says. Oh right, then we will have to listen to the media, the GOP and the political pundits say the President was wrong in what he said. It's a no win situation for the President and Americans. At least he hasn't said "you're doing a good job Brownie". Marlene in Mich

    June 15, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. Russ

    And you Steve Scalise, radical agenda? You want this to happen again? What are you talking about? Maybe we should just let the oil cover up the whole cess pool of a place called Louisiana up and then bury it with absorbant so we don't have to look or listen to morons like you ever again. If you had been more pro active with oil regulations in your area along the gulf you may have been better protected. But, your buddies Bush and Cheney were bought off by the oil companies and you are paying the price. Why aren't you going after them? Stupid stupid Republicans!!!!

    June 15, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Haven't the Republicans learn their lesson ? That we don't want drill Baby drill anymore and that there should be a strict regulation of oil industries and that we should pursue alternative energy. No brainer !

    June 15, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
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