After his administration started off managing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis by appearing to be arm in arm with BP, President Barack Obama has increasingly tried to create distance from the energy giant, now one of the most reviled companies in modern times.
To that end, he has continually raised the pressure on BP. His latest turn of the screw is an announcement he's expected to make this week that he wants the British-based company to create a special fund out of which claims would be paid to those in the Gulf whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the spill.
Speaking on Sunday, David Axelrod, the president's chief White House aide for political strategy, said Obama, in an Oval Office address to the nation this week, will call on BP to place money in an escrow account to be independently administered.
Claims would then be paid directly out of the account to people, like fishermen and those in the tourism industry, whose incomes have dwindled in the nearly two months since the offshore accident.
An excerpt from an exchange Axelrod had with David Gregory, the host of NBC's Meet the Press:
MR. AXELROD: Well, the president will announce several steps
but, as you know, we are meeting — the president is meeting and his top aides are meeting with the BP officials on Wednesday. And there he is going to be very clear about what our expectations are in terms of taking care of the people who have been damaged by this crisis.
MR. GREGORY: And unpack that a little bit, David, because there is an effort there to make sure claims are paid.
MR. AXELROD: Yes.
MR. GREGORY: And how would he like to see that happen?
MR. AXELROD: Well, we want to make sure that money is escrowed for the legitimate claims that are going to be made and are being made by businesses down in the Gulf. People have been damaged by this, and we want to make sure that that money is independently administered so that they won't be slow-walked on these claims.
There are people who live from week-to-week and whose livelihoods have been taken away from them here. And we want to make sure that they can get through this.