Should the government takeover BP?

The Takeaway

This story was originally covered by PRI’s “The Takeaway.” For more, listen to the audio above.

The US government took over General Motors and AIG when the actions of those companies threatened the US economy. Now that BP’s actions are threatening the Gulf of Mexico, Robert Reich, the Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, told PRI’s “The Takeaway” that President Obama should take over BP, too.

“The problem here,” according to Reich, “is that BP not only has a terrible track record in terms of cutting corners and creating not only environmental problems but unsafe working conditions.” Reich also believes that the American people can’t trust the information coming from BP.

“The Obama administration keeps saying BP is in charge because BP has the equipment and expertise necessary to do what’s necessary,” Reich wrote on his blog. And while that’s true, putting the company in to temporary receivership could harness that expertise. It could also make sure that the expertise is used for the public interest, rather than the interests of shareholders.

The takeover would be temporary, under Reich’s plan. Most importantly, though, it would put the President — who is responsible to the American people instead of corporate shareholders — in charge of the cleanup. Reich believes that temporary receivership would ensure that adequate resources would be devoted to the problem and that more truthful information would be shared. He told “The Takeaway:”

We have a national emergency in the Gulf — obviously the most devastating environmental crisis we have had ever in our history. And to leave the major portion of the responsibility for cleaning up the gulf and for stopping that gusher to the company that created it in the first place, just seems unwise.

“The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH. More at

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