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  • A Brand of "Independence" Only Obama Could Love

    President Barack Obama promised in his Oval Office speech that an “independent third party” would be responsible for overseeing the distribution of $20 billion in funds set-aside to compensate those harmed by the BP oil spill disaster. Apparently, though, “independence” is all in the eye of the beholder.

    When that beholder is President Obama, an “independent third party” can apparently be someone from his own administration who serves at his will and direction. Enter Kenneth Feinberg, a Democrat, Obama administration pay czar, and now-overseer of the $20 billion BP trust fund. Unfortunately, his only true independence is from congressional approval and from the will of the American people. What’s more, he’s not independent from President Barack Obama. That’s dangerous, considering the extent of Feinberg’s unchecked power and nature of his job. As Russ Ferguson writes in The American Spectator:

    Czars have almost unlimited power and are not subject to Congressional oversight like their cabinet-member counterparts.

    That means the payment of claims under the new $20 billion escrow account will be another set of money that is controlled solely by the President. This is yet another instance of this President extending his reach. Another instance of upsetting the careful balance of powers our forefathers so prudently placed in our founding document.

    Feinberg has made a living out of picking winners and losers — he managed the fund that compensated families of 9-11 victims, he did the same for victims of the Virginia Tech shooting, and he set the pay for top executives who received federal bail-out funds. President Obama spoke of his confidence in Feinberg’s ability to dole out the BP dollars, stating, “And I’m confident he will ensure that claims are administered as quickly, as fairly, and as transparently as possible.”

    But fairness and transparency have taken on unique meanings within the Obama administration. As a candidate, Obama promised that health care negotiations would take place in the light of day, in front of C-SPAN cameras. In reality, they didn’t. And when President Obama called for a tax on banks who received bailout dollars, he did so on the basis of “fairness,” when in fact those who would get hit with the tax had already repaid their debt, while the auto industry hadn’t yet were not to be taxed.

    Now, President Obama stands to redefine “independence,” too, with the appointment of one of his own czars to take on the task of allocating oil spill compensation funds. And he’s doing it all while flouting the rule of law, which evidently has no bearing on his ability to issue directives to corporate America. The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky writes of the way in which the Obama administration secured the $20 billion BP trust fund:

    What is unseemly about this is the type of pressure involved and to what end. The president basically ignores the relevant federal statute by pressuring and threatening BP not just for more money prior to any judicial or other fair trial, but apparently for government (and therefore political) control over that money.

    And that control is guaranteed with the selection of the not-so-independent Kenneth Feinberg.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    20 Responses to A Brand of "Independence" Only Obama Could Love

    1. Marilou Anderson says:

      President Obama will always be doing the wrong thing, the wrong way, at the wrong time, to the opposition. (I agree with the above comment.) It is unbelieveable how ruthless, and abusive they have been in their relentless hate and efforts to crush President Obama and using the Constitution as a weapon to back their arguments.

    2. Kingofthenet,NJ says:

      What the president did was negotiate a guaranteed settlement for the people of the gulf. He did in one meeting with BP what would take decades in a courtroom and doesn’t always guarantee a win for those injured. By the way, there is nothing ILLEGAL about an out of court settlement. In fact most courts appreciate such action because it’s important for public policy to encourage humanitarian efforts outside of the courtroom. It’s unbelievable that most of you are not more impressed. Further the agreement was not even capped! Those in the gulf may still get more if clean-up in the gulf is not complete. President Obama is AMAZING! I bet those who were harmed in the Exxon Valdez spill wish they had such an advocate.

    3. Todd, Albany OR says:

      Dear Marilou and kingofthenetNJ,

      The law already requires BP to pay for the cleanup and they have already said they would do exactly that. Their stock is already down ~50% since this started and a lot of people (including retirees and pension funds) have lost a lot of money. The President's behavior is certainly not helping these people. Does this make you happy?

      I do not think that the President awarding himself an additional $20bil slush fund to pick winners and losers and then another $100mil on top of that to pay off the people he is in the process of denying jobs to with his senseless drilling moratorium reflects the balance of powers and property rights that the founders of our country had in mind.

      When a crisis like this comes along, it is time to work together and fix it. Instead, this President acts like a bullying child, doing anything he can to deny personal responsibility and using the office of President of the United States with which he has unfortunately been entrusted to take out what I suspect are feelings of inadequacy on someone else. This is about what I would expect from a Chicago community organizer who has never had to make a payrole or actually fix something himself.

      Obama is a pathetic thug of a President and it makes me sad for my country.

    4. Nancy Morrison says:

      I think the Republican party is trying to make us forget that George Bush is the person who left the USA in this mess he created and we are struggling to find a way out. I believe that President Obama is doing everything he possibly can to create jobs, give us decent health care, end the war in Iraq and regain the trust of other countries. He is the first politician I have honestly believed is trying to work for the American people and not just his party, as the republicans did. I think Obama tells us the truth and keeps us informed of everything he is attempting to do for us. Obama can not change all the mistakes George Bush made while he still in his first term. It will probably take years to clean up Bush's mistakes. I believe Obama is an honest hard working person that can save the U.S. if we give him the chance. I will never vote for a person who is ashamed to admit to his party Mr Southerland.

    5. Michael,Cleveland says:

      Does anyone really think that ALL $20 billion will go to the Gulf disaster? I very, very, highly doubt that it will not. I do not trust the goverment at all on this.

      The environmental damage to the coastline shores would not be as bad had the President:

      *taken up the offer from the Dutch, who offered skimmers. They offered 3 days after the disaster, but the President turned down that offer,

      *taken up the offers from 10 additional countries, who offered cleanup assistance, but he turned down those offers as well.

      *easily allowed the governor of Louisianna to buid barriers to protect his coastal areas.

      This President will not be amazing if any of this $20 billion will go into the hands of the wrong people.

    6. Hugh Goodman, South says:

      With all due respect to Kingofthenet and Marilou Anderson, it is apparent that many who support the president don't really understand how representative government works, and that there are 3 equal branches of the government. I wonder if a republican president had refused help from a dozen or so countries to help clean up the oil spill before it her the shore, if they would be saying the same thing they are now. I expect not

    7. MaryAnn says:

      "Further, the agreement was not even capped!" They …"may still get more!" Well,alleluia! and thank God for the "amazing" Obama. I suppose it doesn't matter what coercive tactics Obama used to get his "out of court settlement". You know, we're supposed to be a nation of laws, not a nation of Obama or any president. And we have laws to deal with this kind of thing. Once again, Obama and his minions have trashed the rule of law in America, and that is a very dangerous precedent for us to allow to be set up. People who like it now, will not like it very much when Obama sets his sights on whatever livlihood they currently enjoy. Obama has a strong antipathy to the private sector and his actions, or rather his lack of action in allowing the private sector to clean up the gulf speaks loudly to it. As does the fact that the private sector has lost over 2 million jobs, while the public sector- government- is growing nicely.

      BP has accepted responsibility for the spill, the clean-up and the people affected. BP is facing unlimited liability and future lawsuits. What happens when BP goes bankrupt? Are the people likely to "still get more" when that happens?

    8. Ben Franklin, Indian says:

      WOW! Did I read that right – people actually think what he did was OK? I guess if you live in a dictatorship where the King can do what he wants, and when – as long as he appears benevolent and doesn't hurt me, then he's cool.

    9. ann kitay fulton, tx says:

      Once more it has hit me like a ton of bricks! We don't hear from Cabinet members anymore. I couldn't even name one! Worse, I feel ashamed of myself. It seems evolution may be more than a theory – new evidence out of Washington proves it's existence. Re: BP vs. BO – if we allow this travesty to stand as we have government takeover of American enterprises, do not cry when they come for you. It's the Principle of it all. Somebody who has the authority and market to inform through editorials had best take to the stage and damned the consequences.

    10. Lloyd Scallan New Or says:

      We all must realize when Feinberg managed the 9/11 fund, it was under George Bush. Feinberg now owes his entire existance in government to Obama. Does anyone really think that this Obama lackey will be independent? Each and every day

      Obama is taking over more and more of our government, while the left-wing radicals

      in the media are shouting that they want Obama to just take over everything and become a "dictator" to take us in whatever direction he and his ilk feel is in our best

      interest. Never mind the Constitution or the rule of law. How can everyone not see

      just where we are heading under Obama and not be scared to death about the future of this nation?

    11. Randall Holland, Ari says:

      Now that BP is no longer responsible to pay anyone. The government must now set up another big government bureaucracy to pay out claims. This bureaucracy will eat up a large portion of the settlement.

      Just like the bailout of the home loans to homeowners, we will see hundreds if not thousands of stories were the people that need help will be left begging because of the big government bureaucracy.

      Because the 20 billion dollar fund is secured by BP assets in American then after BP goes bankrupt the government will have its own Obama Petroleum Oil Company or OP.

    12. Dennis Georgia says:

      We used to have 3 seperate branches in the "guvment". We only have one now, the dictator or supreme ruler is the one and only way. All of congress wil submitt to his rule or pay the price in the near future. We the small people, the common people have no say so, as all in the "guvment" especially obama feel we are unable to make our own decisions. We must vote in November, take our country back and let all know we are not just stupid common people.

    13. Bryan, seattle says:

      Impeach, Repeal, Adjudicate…First get this group/cabal out of power while we still have a country to save; Next, start the repeal process for ALL of this disastrous administrations misdeeds; Last, Put them behind bars.

      I am flabbergasted that none of these crooks are in prison. None of them are suffering or on trial for these blatant thefts of tax dollars or any of the seditious acts against this country and her people.

    14. Glynis, England says:

      I think (Kingofthenet) you missed the point. The $20 billion dollar fund is not an "out of court settlement". Obama has already told US citizens it isn't capped so, therefore, it isn't a settlement.

      While the unfortunate victims of this accident wait for their compensation, perhaps someone should be asking what fee, ex Assistant to Teddy Kennedy, Kenneth Feinberg will be getting.

    15. Bob says:

      Don't y'all remember all the concern about usurping constitutional authority when Mr. Feinberg was in control of the 9/11 victims compensation fund? Me neither. I guess concerns about constitutional over reach will go the way of the swift boat veterans if and when Republicans regain control of government.

    16. Gary, Waxhaw, NC. says:

      Kingofthenet,

      You're wanking us …right? Tongue firmly planted in cheek..ooh, I think not. Sure, I'll bet none of the $20B (for now) goes to unions. There's absolutely no track record of that.

      Why is it that every time we turn around, he's got his hands on some large stash of our cash?

      Gary

    17. Zermatt says:

      While I'll be the first to admit that Obama has not handled this crisis well at all, I don't understand this position about the $20B escrow account. Feinberg was appointed by John Ashcroft to administer the 911 settlement funds.

      It sounds like the Heritage Foundation wants those affected by this disaster to go through the legal process, which would be very long and drawn out. It could take many years, if not decades, to get a settlement. These people need help NOW. Besides, don't conservatives dislike lawsuits?

      BP had their attorneys in that meeting with Obama earlier this week, and from what I understand, at least one of them is a U.S. lawyer. If there was anything that was "trashing the rule of law," why didn't BP's attorneys put a stop to it,. and why did they agree to create this fund? It is because BP knows they are at fault. They have no choice but to properly compensate the people affected by this disaster.

      Criticize Obama for the way he has handled other aspects of this disaster, but for the Heritage Foundation and others to criticize this $20B fund administered by Feinberg only goes to show that the HF and other conservatives are simply out to destroy Obama any way they can. They should be very happy that these victims in the Gulf are getting at least some monetary relief much more quickly than they would otherwise. Oh, I forgot. The HF, limbaugh, and all the rest of these far right wingers don't like "victims."

    18. Billie says:

      Good one, Ben Franklin!

      I keep picturing Ben Franklin with your words and can't stop laughing! Thank you, sincerely. But how ugly, true.

    19. Lloyd Scallan New Orleans area says:

      Zermatt. In case you didn’t know, BP had already pledged they would pay for all
      damages caused by the spill, without law suites. Obama’s “gun to the head’ is nothing but a political ploy to divert the attention away from his pathetic non-action and his deliberate, political ploicy to allow the oil to flow to create an even
      larger “crisis” to justify his Crap and Tax push. Are you that blind not to see
      what has happened in the past when Obama get his hands of money and around the throats of corporations. Just look back at the auto industries, the banks, housing, medical insurance, etc. To believe anyone, other that an Obama picked
      receipent, will recieve any funds in a timely fashion is beyond naive and foolish.
      It’s going to be many years before the average resident of the Gulf Coast, without political connections, will see one penny of that money.

    20. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      I recall when a neigbor of mine and I were fueding. My wife, every morning at seven in the Summer, would turn the sprinklers on to water our front lawn.

      One Sunday Morning there was our neigbor's car parked on the street in front of our house, with his window down. My wife went next door to ask them to move the car, but no one answered.

      She moved the sprinklers, but some of the water got into the car anyway. Then some guy came over from the neighbors and these are his exact words,"In my biased opinion, it seems that you have purposely damaged that car parked in front of your house."

      Of course after hearing him say "biased", it went downhill from there, and the police pointed out that there was no reason on Earth for them to have parked their car in front of our house, and to have left the window half rolled down.

      Years later, obama ran for office, and my very first thought was of our neighbor. Can't stand a liar, and can't trust them either, they're sneaky, and they do not care about your rights or your property or your money, just their own selfishness.

      Keep focused on the November Vote, and rid our Nation of all Professional Politicians, and let us get back to the idealism of Volunteer Citizens, for Politicians, who will serve one or two terms and figure then it is someone elses turn.

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