WTF Bob Robb

18 Jun 2010 02:14 pm
Posted by: Donna

While I find most right wing defenses of BP to be downright comical these days, Robert Robb’s callousness sends a shudder down my spine. What motivates a person to be more concerned about the wellbeing of a corporation and its profits than about the death of human beings and wildlife and the destruction of an ocean?

Per his column today:

Nevertheless, there is something deeply disturbing about the way he has strong-armed BP into setting up a $20 billion escrow account to pay spill-related claims and, in particular, relinquishing its rights under American tort law.

A few weeks ago, Attorney General Eric Holder made a very public show about a criminal investigation of the oil spill. In his Oval Office address this week, Obama said he planned to “inform” BP that it was to set up such an escrow account, administered by a third party whose decisions BP could not contest.

Robb doesn’t go so far as to apologize to BP and describe it a “tragedy of the first proportion” as Joe Barton did. What Robb does instead is throw out legalistic jargon laden weasel-speak to create the appearance of illegality on President Obama’s part in the voluntary deal he crafted with BP:

But forcing a company, even in these circumstances, into an extralegal payment scheme under the threat of criminal prosecution violates the rule of law as so usefully explicated by F.A. Hayek. According to Hayek, the essence of the rule of law is: (a) economic actors know what the rules are in advance; and (b) the rules apply equally to all.

Horsefeathers. I’m not sure what rules Robb has in mind when he refers to economic actors needing to know them but I’d say that even in the absence of negligence (so clearly demonstrated by BP in events leading up to the spill), offshore drilling carries a lot of expensive risks and anyone undertaking it better be prepared to pay a lot of money should something go awry. And if Robb is worried about inequality, then fine, make every oil company engaged in offshore drilling pony up an escrow fund. I don’t see what his problem is. Has Robb abandoned his principled support for tort reform? I thought he and his compatriots wanted to stop the greedy trial lawyers from tying up cases in court and collecting fees! I thought they wanted suits against businesses limited and their liabilities capped! Yeah right. Robb is perfectly happy to let the “small people” fight in court for 20 years to get what is due to them.

As if all that weren’t bad enough, Robb goes on to compare President Obama to Vladimir Putin. I mean, sort of.

In his book “The End of the Free Market,” Ian Bremmer offers a couple of vignettes about business life in Russia under the state capitalism of Vladimir Putin. In one, Putin marches into a grocery story, television cameras in tow, and tells the manager that his prices are too high. They are instantly cut. In another, television cameras also in tow, Putin bursts into the office of the owner of a recently closed cement factory, puts a document in front of him reopening the plant and tells him to sign it. He does.

Obama isn’t Putin, and the muscling of BP in these circumstances doesn’t turn the American economy into state capitalism. But there is reason to worry.

Ooh, better worry! First your President secures billions of dollars to assist victims of a horrific disaster caused by abject corporate negligence and the next thing you know, BAM! He’s an authoritarian tyrant barging into grocery stores across the land to tell them how to price their goods!

And then there’s this howler:

The Obama administration also ran roughshod over the rights of secured creditors in the Chrysler bailout. In the financial regulation-reform legislation, rather than setting up new rules that apply to everyone, extraordinary discretionary authority is being given to selected regulators.

Great, let’s set up new rules that apply to everyone in financial reform too! Which will then be fought tooth and nail by people of Bob Robb’s persuasion, who don’t want businesses to be regulated. (Psst…it’s the reason we have problems like collapsing economies and millions of gallons of oil fouling the Gulf of Mexico right now.)

To borrow a gimmick from Keith Olbermann, I’m calling Robert Robb the Worst Person in Arizona today.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by Susan on June 18, 2010 7:47 pm

    This guy makes me gag every time I read his column. He sounds like a compete idiot with a very short memory.

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