With oil continuing to pour into the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama's chief of staff says Republicans favor business interests over ordinary citizens, and would bring that governing philosophy to Washington if they took control of Congress. Partisan mudslinging has intensified over the BP oil spill, with Republicans finding fault in the Obama administration's response to the crisis.
Washington tends to view issues and events through a partisan lens. The Gulf oil spill is no different, and Democrats continue to pounce on last week's comments by Republican Congressman Joe Barton, who expressed deep regret that oil giant BP had been pressured by the Obama administration to compensate victims of the ecological disaster. BP is setting up a $20 billion compensation fund.
Appearing on ABC's This Week program, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Barton's comments revealed prevailing Republican views when it comes to big business.
"That is a philosophy. They see the aggrieved party here is BP, not the fisherman [of the Gulf states]," he said. "That that would be the governing philosophy [of Republicans]. And I think what Joe Barton did is remind the American people - in case they forgot - this is how the Republicans would govern."
Republicans reject any charge that they only care about corporate interests.
"Of course that is nonsense," said Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, when he spoke on Fox News Sunday. He said Barton did not speak for Republicans when he apologized to BP for the Obama administration's insistence that BP establish the compensation fund.
"BP does not need an apology," he said. "They need to apologize to us, and they certainly need to cover all the cost of the clean-up and the economic damages, as well."
McConnell said, instead of criticizing Republicans, the Obama administration should focus on its own response to the oil disaster.
"The president, himself, is in charge of developing a contingency plan to deal with oil spills," said McConnell. What happened to it? The administration has a role to play in this, and they have not done a very good job so far."
Roughly two months after an oil rig exploded, crude continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico. Efforts to stop the leak have proven ineffective, and efforts to contain the spill have not prevented oil from reaching U.S. shores. Government estimates of just how much oil is leaking have risen since the deadly explosion, and currently stand at some 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.