The White House is being pounded for not acting more aggressively in the month-old oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration is hitting back, mostly at BP. Louisiana is threatening to take matters into its own hands. The truth is, the government has little direct experience at either the national or state level at stopping deepwater oil leaks — and few realistic options.
“As the administration is being pounded,” eh? This is “pounding?” I invite the writer of this particular opinion piece to go back and review the press coverage of Katrina. Now, that was an administration getting pounded.
With the oil flowing and spreading at a furious rate, President Barack Obama has accused BP of a “breakdown of responsibility.” He named a special independent commission to review what happened.
But the administration seems to want to have it both ways — insisting it’s in charge while also insisting that BP do the heavy lifting. The White House is arguing that government officials aren’t just watching from the sidelines, but also acknowledging there’s just so much the government can do directly.
The problem here is that the administration is having a hard time being seen as doing something.
When somebody didn’t have health coverage at a price they were willing to pay, the government could DO something. What it did is incomprehensible, incoherent, and incompetent… but it’s going to be a few years before the degree to which this is true is manifestly undeniable, so, for now, some people give the feds credit for at least having done something…. though the numbers of such people appear to be dropping daily.
Is somebody out of work? Hey, the government is spending billions and billions and billions on makework projects (did you know you can create a $50,000 per year job for only half-a-million bucks of federal money?), unemployment benefit extensions, and shovel ready projects of all kinds (I have dogs… so I have a few shovel ready projects I wouldn’t mind federal funding for… and they’d do about as much good for the economy).
Are some children mentally disabled? Let’s create a federal law that imposes on the states an enormous bureacracy whose net effect is to send an army of expensively educated people with Master’s degrees to work in small classes (or even private lessons!) trying to teach 3rd grade arithmetic to 15 yr olds who have no chance of ever remembering a significant amount of the instruction, let alone using it for anything. Let’s make federal laws that force states to create educational policy by lawsuit, so that one parent sues under new federal law, and the entire state’s approach changes, very expensively, as a result. And let’s remember to reserve names like “mean-spirited” and “cold-hearted” for anyone who thinks perhaps this isn’t a wise use of public resources. In the meantime, let’s continue to complain about how financially strapped the state and county education establishments are.
At least we’re trying to do something.
So, just to get in the spirit of things, tomorrow (or the next day), I’ll be posting some suggestions for things the Obama Administration could do immediately to stop the Gulf oil leak. Not that I’m promising any of them will actually work. But one of them might…. and we have to try, don’t we?