Instead of making another TV "speech" to us, President Obama should have told the American people two simple truths about the debacle in the Gulf followed by the announcement of three Presidential actions.
TRUTH #1: Nobody knows how to stop the rampaging open sore that is the broken well drilled by BP's Deepwater Horizon. Nobody. Not anyone, anywhere. If someone did know how, the well would have been shut down by now. Face the facts. Live with them. Stop complaining that nobody is stopping it. This busted well will continue to spew oil until a relief well can be dug. That will take months. And there is no guarantee even that will completely halt this incredible disaster. If the relief well fails, we will have to wait until someone, somewhere thinks of something new to stop the oil.
TRUTH #2: BP has lied to the American people since the first day of this terrible tragedy. In fact, they began lying about the Deepwater Horizon long before they put this platform in place and started drilling. All the government permits filed by BP as part of the process required before they could drill this well - all of them contain lies. Since Day One of the spill, BP has lied about the size of the spill, the cause of the spill and their capacity to assess the prognosis for stopping it. BP has been - and continues to be - motivated only by profit and reducing any liability it may incur in the future. All statements of concern made by BP officials are insincere except as they relate to their own corporate interests. BP and all of its officers, spokesmen and supporters, cannot be trusted to tell the truth. They do not care about any of us.
Beyond those two truths, there's very little else we can be certain of today. But here are the Presidential actions President Obama should have announced.
ACTION #1: All assets of BP within the grasp of the United States are frozen in place or seized by the US government until further notice. These assets include all revenue from all sources including all federal government contracts; all physical and real property; all bank accounts and investments; all partnership interests and other shared financial operations. As a result, not a penny belonging to BP's operations in the United States and elsewhere in the world where US influence can be effectively applied may be transferred to BP's home country, England, or to anywhere else in the world outside the reach of the United States government.
ACTION #2: All claims against BP will be promptly heard by Special Masters, as many as will be needed, appointed by the Justice Department and all approved claims will be immediately paid from the seized BP assets.
ACTION #3: One million jobs will be made available - starting tomorrow - to anyone living anywhere in the United States who wants to come to the Gulf Coast to work in the clean-up of the BP oil spill. The federal government will do all hiring. In addition to wages, transportation and living costs will be paid. All necessary training and safety equipment will be provided complete with medical care guarantees for all workers. All costs of this program will be paid by the federal government and immediately reimbursed from the seized BP assets.
Had he made these five specific statements - told us the truth and taken firm actions - in place of rambling generalities, President Obama would have demonstrated the kind of superior leadership those of us who voted for him once expected.
For those who, for whatever reason, continue to say that BP cannot afford to absorb the cost of their own deceptive mischief - here are the facts: BP's annual income, its gross revenue, exceeds $160,000,000,000. In the three months just prior to this crisis, BP's 1st Quarter 2010 revenue was $73,007,000,000 - an increase of almost 55% over the previous year 2009. In that year, 2009, while most of us suffered through the hardest economic times in memory, BP had an average quarterly Gross Profit Margin of 23.36%. Last year alone BP reported a profit of more than $20,000,000,000.
When we talk about unimaginable revenues and equally staggering earnings; the kind of money that literally seems unreal - that's what we're talking about. If it takes a year's worth of BP's revenue to repair the damage this British company is inflicting upon the United States, so be it.
President Obama should have told us these truths and should have taken these actions. In so doing we could begin to fix what can be fixed and pay fair damages for what cannot. And he should have sworn an oath as important as the one he took when inaugurated - an oath to fight BP's certain to come efforts to avoid this reckoning in whatever forum BP seeks refuge from.
If President Obama can send our children and our treasure to war for Iraq and Afghanistan certainly we can expect him to fight for us right here on our own beachhead.