Boehner wants you to pick up the tab

BOEHNER WANTS YOU TO PICK UP THE TAB…. Tom Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, raised a few eyebrows last week when he addressed the costs of the BP oil spill disaster. While President Obama and congressional Democrats have been emphasizing the need for the oil giant to pay for its own catastrophe, Donohue said he wanted to spread the burden around.

“Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up; we are all going to have to do it,” he said. “We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies and we will figure out a way to do that.”

And when Donohue says “money from the government,” that necessarily means money from American taxpayers. When he says “we” are “all” going to have to bear the financial burden, Donohue is suggesting the public and BP split the tab.

Of course, congressional Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce are joined at the hip. Does the GOP agree with their buddy Donohue about taxpayers helping pay for the disaster? Actually, yes. Brian Beutler has this report.

In response to a question from TPMDC, House Minority Leader John Boehner backed Tom Donohue, President of the Chamber of Commerce, in saying taxpayers should help pick up the tab.

“I think the people responsible in the oil spill — BP and the federal government — should take full responsibility for what’s happening there.” […]

The Chamber is extremely influential in Republican politics, so on that level it’s not particularly surprising that Boehner has Donohue’s back on this one. But the politics of asking the federal government (i.e. taxpayers) to help cover the multi-billion dollar cleanup and rescue efforts are deadly. Look for Democrats to jump all over this one.

As well they should. Politically, this is a potential game-changer. There’s ample polling data that reflects public frustration about the disaster in the Gulf, and that’s certainly understandable. But if the cost debate turns partisan — Dems want BP to pick up the tab; Republicans want you to pick up the tab — it can change the politics of the story in a hurry.

Does Boehner really want to see Republican candidates explaining this fall why they want their constituents to pay for BP’s disaster? The 30-second ads write themselves.

Update: Boehner’s office is now trying to walk this back. The spin, however, isn’t especially persuasive.