April 29th, 2009
04:00 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama responds to tea party movement

(CNN) – President Obama has finally responded personally to the so-called the "tea party" movement – a move amongst some conservatives that criticizes the new administration's policies on taxes, spending, and borrowing during a national economic crisis.

Those critics, he said, were "just waving tea bags around."

"I know you've been hearing all these arguments about, oh, 'Obama is just spending crazy,'" the president said at a town hall event in Arnold, Missouri Wednesday. "Well, let me make a point. Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit - that wasn't from my - that wasn't me."

"Number two, there is almost uniform consensus among economists that in the middle of the biggest crisis - financial crisis since the Great Depression, we had to take extraordinary steps. So you've got a lot of Republican economists who agree that we had to do a stimulus package and we had to do something about the banks."

The president told the audience that the federal government's biggest long term fiscal challenges are its commitments for Medicare and Medicaid.

"That's why I've said we've got to have health reform this year - to drive down costs and make health care affordable for American families, businesses and for our government," said Obama.

On his 100th day in office, Obama said he would like to have a "serious" discussion" about how the federal government can rein in spending and meet its long term obligations.

"So, you know, when you see - those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I'm not very popular and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we're going to stabilize Social Security."

"But let's not play games and pretend that the reason is because of the [$787 billion stimulus bill], because that's just a fraction of the overall problem that we've got."

The national "tea party" movement was inspired by CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli's late February outburst on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Joined by several traders, Santelli expressed frustration about the Obama administration's plan to increase government spending in the hopes of turning around the economy and helping homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages. During the outburst, Santelli suggested the idea of having a "Chicago tea party" on the shores of Lake Michigan.

soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. JJ

    He has no clue....

    April 29, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  2. Chris from NY

    I don't understand this. Except for the 787 billion dollar recovery bill that was recently passed Obama hasn't spent much yet. Bush was giving away money to the Iraqis and no one held his feet to the fire. MoveOn.org had an ad in 2004 election describing how our children were going to inherit so much debt and no one said anything then. Now that we have a Prsident who started to pay attention to the needs of the country everyone is crying foul. You can't eat your cake and have it too. I just don't get it.

    April 29, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Alex

    Protesting about taxation with representation has more to do with sour grapes than with tea.

    April 29, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  4. Mike in Dallas

    Whatever. Just more babble from an empty suit, teleprompter dependent idiot. I hear the contempt you have for us "tea party" people but make no mistake, we ain't going away and no amount of sarcastic comments are going to make us. So as you make your little speech on a network that loves you, know this, we will not be deterred no matter how much you try to dismiss us by attacking us personally versus speaking about the reasons we were protesting (BTW that is right out of your handbook, "Rules for Radicals" and we know that trick). Also, don’t even try the old line, “They don’t even know what they are protesting” cause it will not fly. This isn’t about your skin color either but the content of your character.

    April 29, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  5. Peter (CA)

    So what solution do you right wingers have other than foaming at the mouth? This is a crisis that has been coming for 30 years. The insanity of the last 8 finally put us here. We have been exporting jobs and cutting taxes on the rich without thinking about how we will get the money to continue to provide services.
    Will Obama's plan work? I don't know, I hope so. He is betting his Presidency on it. Other than whining, what do YOU do?

    April 29, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  6. MN

    Speaking for myself, in my eyes, President Obama is doing a good job with what he has to deal with. The trainwreck of the economy is starting to slow to where it can begin its eventual climb, unfortunately the inertia of bodies in the form of jobs losses will continue its path until finally climbing back onboard the economic train and recovery will finally be realized.

    I as an independent do not always agree with the current administration but I indeed have confidence that they are steering the ship in the right direction but in reality only time will tell. Therefore we all must have patience but keep ever mindful and diligent of unfolding events.

    But as I completely disagree with the Republican Party currently in their state of being, I do have hope that somewhere within their own trainwreck some smart Republican can emerge that will provide tangible ideas that mainstream America can embrace and save their party from a disastrous contraction of membership which they are now experiencing. Even our President has said if any of them are listening, he is willing to listen to their NEW ideas, but he cannot listen to any ideas if none are being presented. And if the Republicans are listening, many Americans are willing to listen to new tangible ideas from the republicans but so far none have come forth other than... No, socialist, tea parties, communism, fascist or a whole slew of other name calling.

    I believe we need a multi party system. But we will not have one unless a new party is formed to become a national party that appeals to the people or the Republican's stop the trainwreck they are in and rebuild.

    April 29, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  7. No More Incumbents

    When I bought the house, the stove was on fire, so I threw gasoline on it. See, it's not my fault! Unless something good happens of course, then it was me.............

    April 29, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. Proud DHS radical

    "I know you've been hearing all these arguments about, oh, 'Obama is just spending crazy,'" the president said at a town hall event in Arnold, Missouri Wednesday."

    Hey Obama...what was the taxpayer's cost of your Air Force One trip to Missouri and back to D.C.? You talk of Americans needing to sacrifice, maybe you should show a little leadership and sacrifice a few of these feel good publicity trips and stay in Washington.

    April 29, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  9. Vietnam Vet71

    Tea baggers. They are akin to the grind-up leaves in the bag.

    April 29, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. Capt. SNarKy

    {Peter (CA) April 29th, 2009 5:50 pm ET

    So what solution do you right wingers have other than foaming at the mouth? This is a crisis that has been coming for 30 years. The insanity of the last 8 finally put us here. We have been exporting jobs and cutting taxes on the rich without thinking about how we will get the money to continue to provide services.
    Will Obama's plan work? I don't know, I hope so. He is betting his Presidency on it. Other than whining, what do YOU do?}

    Peter – He's betting a bit more than just his "presidency" on this......
    There is much more at stake here, than just his legacy.

    April 29, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  11. dave in chicago

    Well at least he is speaking the truth for once. Look at the junior senator's voting record and you will see that he almost never voted for anything. So I guess he is telling the truth since he didn't vote for much how could he be responsible.

    ...and then the liberal lemmings attack in 3...2...1...

    April 29, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  12. Simmy

    Mr. President, you're gracious as always.

    I wonder about that lady with the tea bags around her hat .....Does anyone know if she's still roaming the streets waving a tea bag flag? She looked so bewildered. It was as if someone dragged her off the street, threw that hat on her head, and put a tea bag flag in her hand to wave...Poor thing....

    April 29, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  13. Laura L.

    Once again, our President shows that his fairy tale presidency is nothing but fable after fable. Not only does he continue to blame his "inheriting" a deficit, which he proceeds to TRIPLE, but he adds insult to injury by implying that American's don't know the difference between truth and fiction.
    He also said he'd be glad to sit down and have a conversation with someone about how to fix those problems he can't seem to stop throwing money at. Well, I'd be glad to sit down and let him know how to handle it. Anyone with at least a high school level economics class could handle these issues in a more fiscally-sound manner.
    All the rigged polls in the world can't change fiction into fact ... and we know the facts. It's way past time we started hearing facts from the White House.

    April 29, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  14. Shianne

    President Obama...You are definitely an intelligent leader. We have lacked leadership for 8 years. Don't worry about the "tea bums", they enjoy their ignorance. They have no brains. They put their trust and beliefs in a drug addict radio dude WHO IS LAUGHING HIS FAT BUTT ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK. Nuff said!

    Mr. President – please change your mind on torture. It would make my LIFE if you would send that disgusting human being, if you want to call him a human being, DICK to prison for life!!!!!


    April 29, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  15. Republican economists?

    that didn't have their heads in the sand? or run around yelling the sky is falling?

    they were participating in a good discussion?

    no, couldn't be

    must not be listening to Rush or O'Rielly

    April 29, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  16. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Wasn't he a member of Congress? Doesn't that mean he was voting for the budgets presented to Congress by President Bush? Oh yeah, that's right, for the entire 2 years of his first and only Senate term, he was running for president and wasn't around to vote for any bills. I guess he really can keep blaming everybody else for the country's problems. By the way, it wasn't FOX News reporters actually protesting. There were thousands of others and it's insulting to just dismiss them the way the other news outlets and now the President has done. I suppose if they had been marching in favor of gay marriage or free abortions, you all would have been throwing rose petals and confetti.

    April 29, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  17. Andi

    Why should any conversation our President include people who publicly call him vile names and insult his family. That's pretty petty. The the tea baggers screaming and threatening and trying to incite violence.

    I got news for you – I don't care how many guns you have stockpiled, you and your friends are no match for the US Military.

    I'm tired of listening to racist and disgusting names being thrown around and then hearing the Right cry 'ooo you're pulling the race card'. Sit back and take a gooooood look around. You don't like a Black guy being 'above' you, do you? Thought so. You'll feel better once you realize it. Your hate is not helping. And please read the ENTIRE Constitution, not just the Bill of Rights before you cloak yourself in it. Ditto for the Bible.

    April 29, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  18. Phyrrhus

    Obama will raise taxes on everyone to pay for all of the programs and bigger government, like Bush the 1st and Clinton. He has no choice. I'm a waitin for that free government health care, those fancy government made chevrolets and chryslers, government run banks, and everything government. No more poor, sick, unemployed, or evil disgusting rich people, like David Letterman (12 mil yr), Jon Stewart(4 mil a yr) and Glenn Beck (4 mil a yr). We will have free electric cars, free houses, a 10 hour work week and best of all, no bosses. Everything will be done by consensus. Saint Obama will care for us, his blind, adoring, dependant children. Utopia is just around the corner, except for Afghanistan and Iraq of course. Gosh, Xmas don't be late!! HEIL OBAMA !!! HEIL OBAMA !!!

    April 29, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  19. Go and Hate no more!!!

    @Mike in Dallas April 29th, 2009 5:50 pm ET
    read this****Bev – NYC April 29th, 2009 4:48 pm ET
    Mr. President, you are wrong to assume that teabaggersand those who incite them are capable of serious conversation. There will always be low information types who will allow themselves to be led by the nose. They have yet to realized that Hannity, Limbaugh and Beck outsourced their protesting to them so they could keep more of their no talent paychecks. Who do these teabaggers think will made up the tax burden when the rich don't pay their fare share? That's right , folks living paycheck to paycheck, but Hannity can go home to his gated community every night paid for by the working class. They would rather cut their nose off to spite their face than admit they are wrong. The only comfort I have is that their numbers are dwindling. Just brush the haters off Mr. President.****I AGREE!!!!!

    April 29, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
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