George, I want to start with you. I know you don't agree with what Republican Texas Congressman Joe Barton had to say, but does the idea of this $20 billion escrow account make you uncomfortable?
WILL: It does. Look, there is no defense of BP which has an execrable safety record in this country, from the refinery disaster in Texas in '05, the Morris Slope leak in '06, all of that and so no apology from BP. But if you don't want to live in a Northern Hemisphere Venezuela, you ought to be a little queasy about the fact that a president, any president of any party, using raw political power, without recourse to courts that exist for this sort of thing, under laws, with due process, essentially confiscates $20 billion from a publicly held corporation, about half of its shares held by Americans, to be dispensed, again, with out judicial supervision, as the political branch sees fit.
That is worrisome. Even, they have even said that BP maybe held responsible for the lost wages caused by, not BP, but the administration's own moratorium, six-months moratorium, on deepwater drilling. Which maybe more costly to the economy of the Gulf than the spill itself.
TAPPER: There is a separate $100 million account for those out of work-
TAPPER: -workers who work for those oil rigs.
MARTIN: What a shock, I'm going to disagree with that.
Well, there are two questions here. Does the president have the authority and is that an appropriate use of his authority. And I credit George, it might not be an appropriate use of his authority. But we interviewed a number of environmental lawyers this week who say there are any number of statutes which give the president the authority to do this.
And he didn't bypass, of course, BP still has access to the courts. They can challenge this at any time, they can challenge liability. And frankly, the question I have is this a ceiling or a floor? I mean, there is a reasonable argument to be made that this represents a ceiling for their liability. The president also went on the record as saying that he doesn't want BP to go away. That it is in the interests of this disaster for BP to continue as a company, as an ongoing entity.
TAPPER: He said this was not capped at $20 billion, though.
MARTIN: Well, yeah, but I think you could argue that it becomes the argument for a cap. It is not legal cap, and so again, they can argue over that. The courts have not gone away. This is the means by-the president has the authority to do this and if he doesn't I'm that the courts exist to address these claims.
TAPPER: Richard, I mentioned that Rahm Emanuel, his famous quote about not letting a crisis go to waste. And they are meeting on energy policy with members of Congress on Wednesday. Do you think that the administration is seizing this and not letting this crisis go to waste.
HAASS: So far, no. They have not seized it. And I think that was the biggest weakness of the president's address the other night, from the Oval Office. It wasn't what he said, it what he didn't say. It was very thin on the policy side.
The United States uses one out of every three gallons of oil in the world that are devoted to road transit. We have got to cut that back. And what I would say that argues for a much more ambitious escalation of so-called CAFE standards, of mileage standards.