This is an interesting article. The idea is that the Tea Party should want government to hold BP accountable to the fullest extent of the law, because the government response in the Gulf is very expensive, and the Tea Party is all about a minimal and efficient tax burden. So, why aren’t they complaining about BP’s accountability?
There is an irony that the Tea Party takes its name from a (somewhat archaic) history reference of the British imposing unfair costs on American taxpayers, and then might not care about a British company imposing unfair costs on American taxpayers right now. Maybe the whole point of the article was rhetorical, but the question is worth resolving.
The Tea Party tends to be economically conservative-to-libertarian. Most libertarians don’t mind normal corporate tort lawsuits, but they might not like all the complicated avenues of legal liability the government could use against BP. Some of the claims against BP might not require intent or negligence, and it’s possible the total liability could put all the companies involved out of business. BP has become a huge American villain, and some people might not like that happening before the company has had a day in court.
Even if BP made some mistakes, it’s a legal industry that American consumers demand. Somebody was going to do that work, and we don’t know who would have done better. Tea Partiers might not feel that energy regulations are sufficiently unbiased or symbiotic to the oil industry.
Maybe some of the Tea Partiers don’t have a problem with what’s happening to BP, but don’t feel the fulsome chorus of public opinion needs any additional voices. Also, the Tea Party is an unsteady coalition of various people, interests and groups. Their organization is still young and they don’t have one clear leader. So if there isn’t total unity, Tea Party leaders might want to stay out of the fray and focus on the issues on which everyone’s more united.
Personally, I think this BP spill creates devastating arguments against libertarianism in America, but I don’t think this supposed Tea Party reticence is one of them. I don’t think that article reveals some philosophical inconsistency about the Tea Party.