Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Liability and Responsibility

"The people in the Gulf have my commitment that BP will meet its obligations to them.”

Words from President Barack Obama last week regarding the oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico offers little comfort to Americans concerned about the President’s leadership qualities.

While some may find them comforting, Obama’s promises and band-aid solutions could be frightening to others. One has to ask how BP’s $20 billion in relief funds will eventually be spent.

By appointing Kenneth Feinberg to the fund and selecting the judiciary panel, President Obama now has direct control over BP investments. The President has taken the reins using his own selected pay czars, which begs the question of whether this situation is the President’s responsibility in the first place. While the oil spill and the ramifications that followed cannot be blamed on any one individual, it is not the President’s job to offer assurance on BP’s behalf.

Once again, the government is stepping in to take over when the private companies can’t pull the weight. Much like the big three auto deal, President Obama has failed to understand his responsibilities. In an order to make himself relevant, the President feels the need to do something, anything to help.

The mistake lies in the President’s inadequate leadership and BP’s complete lack of preparation. 65 days after the oil rig caught fire, BP and the US Government are still fighting to come up with a reasonable solution. Perhaps the President was concerned about having his picture snapped with an oil executive considering his past track record? Or maybe he was simply unsure of his responsibilities in the first place. Regardless, it is time for Tony Hayward and President Barack Obama to step up to the plate, sit down, and figure it out.