By Ben Geman - 06/17/10 09:55 AM EDT
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Wednesday warned the Obama
administration against using oil giant BP as a ‘permanent ATM card’ and
more broadly alleged there are increasing federal efforts to “take over
The comments by Bachmann – a popular figure among conservative Tea Party activists – followed BP’s agreement under White House pressure to place $20 billion into a new escrow fund for damage claims from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Bachmann said on the CNN program “John King, USA” that BP must pay for damages, but added, “We don't want these payouts to become political.”
“We don't think it's a good idea for the federal government to see private industry as essentially a piggy bank for the federal government,” she said.
Kenneth Feinberg, who previously oversaw the compensation process for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, will administer the new fund.
Bachmann questioned the deviation from the existing claims process for victims of the BP oil spill.
“This is very different from what we've done in the past. And while it's important that all the claims get paid, let's just make sure that this isn't a permanent ATM card,” Bachmann said of the new independently managed escrow fund.
She alleged the new system is part of a troubling pattern, citing the federal stakes taken in insurance giant AIG, ailing banks and big automakers.
“This is a complete difference in the way that the United States was run 18 months ago. But today, it seems like the automatic effort from the government is let's have the federal government take over private industry,” Bachmann said.
“We don't want that to be the automatic response of government, because we're a free-market economy. And unfortunately, the Obama administration hasn't been making any efforts to unwind the government out of these private industries. We're still deep into GM, deep into Chrysler, et cetera. And I just think we don't want to have the federal government take over effectively the oil industry either,” she added.