This is tremendously stupid politics. The public — particularly Republicans — are weary of taxpayer bailouts already. Now we want more?
Oh, sure — count on Republicans to say, "Well, we bailed out the banks. So why not BP?"
But that argument falls flat. The bailout of the banks was necessary to stem the economic downflow. It was designed to make sure that the entire banking system stayed afloat. (And remember, we did let Sheasron Lehman die first).
This is not the same situation. BP messed up. While the oil spill may wreak havoc with BP's bottom dollar, it doesn't send the entire oil industry into turmoil and collapse, unlike the financial sector bailout. Plus, the oil and gas companies get huge tax breaks already.
Also, BP is, you know, British. Let the Brits bail them out.
Democrats need to jump on this one. Politically, it's a huge gamechanger. The 30 second ads write themselves: "Democrats want BP to pay for its spill; Republicans want you to pay for BP's spill."
P.S. Although I agreed with it at the time, and still do, voters might want to be reminded that the bailout of the banks was done when Bush was president.
UPDATE from Josh Marshall, noting that Boehner is backtracking:
Okay, it seems like we know what Boehner meant. It seems he thinks BP should be on the line for everything. But only up to $75 million once the oil itself if cleaned up.
UPDATE: Boehner steps into the ridiculous again —
Washington (CNN) – House Republican Leader John Boehner mocked Congress for holding multiple hearings on the BP oil spill before experts have figured out how to halt oil still gushing into the Gulf. He sarcastically called the packed hearing schedule, "Congress at its best."
"You know, why don't we get the oil stopped, alright? Figure out what the hell went wrong, and then have the hearing and get the damn law fixed!" an exasperated Boehner told reporters at his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill.
I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that figuring out how to cap the spill is in no way impeded by Congress looking into the root cause of the spill. If it is an impediment, then we're in serious trouble.