Posted by | November 17, 2010 15:53 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

One of the biggest accomplishments of the Obama administration was negotiating a $20 billion independently-controlled escrow fund with BP, to compensate the victims of the catastrophic Gulf coast oil spill. At least, that’s how anyone with the best interests of the American people in mind would see it. But Republican Congressman Joe Barton disagreed. Barton referred to the negotiation between The White House and BP as a “shakedown” and apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward during a public hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Now that the Republicans are back in charge of the House, Joe Barton might become Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. If Barton wins the chairmanship he would be elevated to the top position in the entire House overseeing the oil industry. Barton’s two main Republican rivals for the position were Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). But today Shimkus dropped out of the race and signed on to a letter endorsing Barton for the chairmanship.

The letter signed by several Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee cites Barton’s staunch opposition to health care reform, cap-and-trade legislation and net neutrality as reasons for why Barton deserves the Energy chairmanship. In other words, Republicans love Barton because he zealously protected the health insurance companies, Big Oil, and the impending corporate takeover of the Internet. Is it fair to wonder if Joe Barton will protect BP at the expense of the American people?

This is the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Both parties are corporate parties that need the money of special interests in order to win re-election. But when Republicans are in charge they are brazen in their staunch advocacy for their corporate masters campaign sponsors and care about nothing else. Democrats at least try to strike a balance between corporate interests and the interests of the general population. Republicans are a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, while Democrats are a mostly owned subsidiary of corporate America.

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