April 29th, 2009
04:00 PM ET
10 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. Robin

    Everyone is in agreement. The spending under Bush was wrong.

    And how does our Fearless Leader respond? By insulting Americans and spending even more money.

    Please do not throw FDR in my face either. History shows the New Deal did not work and the Depression was prolonged because of it.

    April 29, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. Jill Brunner

    The tea party attendees were not just conservatives. Although I was not involved in attending a tea party, I know several people who were, and none of them are Republican's or what would be considered conservatives.

    As usual, you are misleading people.

    Don't you ever get sick of lying to the public?

    April 29, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. Mississippi Mike

    The stimulus package + the bank bailouts + the financing and nationalizion of the auto industry + fighting two wars + socialized health care + cap and trade + TARP + mortgage refinancing... What hasn't he spent money on? Oh right, national defense. That's what the tea parties are all about!

    April 29, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Tate

    As a economist there is uniform agreement that this is a mistake. That is a flat out lie, that he is telling. If you are a socialist it makes since but if you have ever had a basic economics class you know he is either clueless or flat out telling a lie. Did Bush blame Clinton for the tech bubble or 9/11? He really has zero class and understanding of markets. He needs to be reading books by Buffett who has already said what he is doing is a mistake. You cant spend you way out of debt.

    April 29, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. GWB2012

    "Certain news channels?" Obama – it was on ALL NEWS CHANNELS! Yes – and Obama has LIED about ending the war, giving the middle class a tax break and has spent, spent, spent at taxpayers expense! So now that we have an extra $5.00 in our paycheck our mayors and governors are raising our taxes and adding on fees for trash pickup. We need a change from tax and spend democrats – they are running this country into the ground!

    April 29, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    Those critics, he said, were "just waving tea bags around."
    Really, It seemed to me that the relevance of a tea party was to speak out about being over taxed. One thing Obama and democrats are unwilling to talk about. I would like to see Obama do an interview (with a news agency that doesn't get a tingle running up their leg when he speaks) about his opinion on the amount of taxes we pay, and i don't mean just Income taxes. I mean the hole deal from gas to electric to food to property and on down the line.
    All Obama did was avoid the real topic and take a shot at citizens who are tiered of working half the year just to pay taxes.

    April 29, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. rice, bryan

    now here is a president that pays attention to what is going on around him. remember when bush was asked about the 4.00 a gallon gas, he said that he didn't hear about it.

    April 29, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Julie

    Glad that he is doing what he did during the election and calling people on the carpet when they are not giving out the right information.
    He is right he did not create this mess our economy is in. We had a President for 8 years and for 6 years the Republicans held the reins.
    He did not want to mention FOX News by name but after spending time watching it at my mothers house I have to say they are not fair, they are really not balanced. My mother is a conservative, I am an independant, I voted for who I think will do a good job for me not who is affilitiated with one certain party. After watching the "Fair and Balanced" views, I will still with CNN who does honestly have guests from both sides talking intelligently about the issues.
    The President is on the right track....Americans need to give him some time.

    April 29, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. RCasson

    I am so glad he finally responded to those "teabagging" fools!!!!!

    April 29, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Nicholas Puleo

    Obama has no idea what he's talking about regarding the economy. Inheritng a deficit does not make it OK to create a MUCH worse one. His "stimulus" spends most of the money in years 2,3 & 4 so CAN'T help now when it is needed. Spending on a hodge podge of pet projects MAY create or "save" some jobs, but most of them will disappear when the proiects are completed (i.e. bridges are built). They are not permanent jobs! Government run health care is proven to be MORE expensive and less efficient. Finally, I accept his invitation to have a "serious discussion" about all of these things. Come visit our small business (the economic backbone of America) and I'll show Mr. President what works and what doesn't, clearly and specifically.

    April 29, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Jimmy Boy

    Still blaming Bush instead of stepping up and owning it. We will never get this guy to fix anything if he cannot get his brain out of the past.

    April 29, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Kelby In Houston, TX

    If you listened to the news clip, you received, a clear concise and articulate response to the tea party people. It made sense. One would think, that after hearing that logical explanation of his fiscal policy, that the tea parties were really stupid and unnecessary. But those poeple who were protesting aren't listening to the president. They don't care about the logic. They are listening to Rush and Hannity and Faux News. In spite of the proof that is being presented to them they will continue to be naysayers. They are truly rebels without a cause. The tea parties were nothing more than a celebration of willful ignorance.
    What will they say when things get better? when people start working? What will they do then? Will they admit they were wrong?

    April 29, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Supergirllondon@twitter

    It's about time Obama answered back to his critics...now all h

    April 29, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. California

    Yes we inherited a 1.3 trillion dollar debt under the Bush administratinon, so where was the "tea party" then – out having a coffee break.

    April 29, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Lucy

    Can you believe it? A president who THINKS in terms of the Constitution of the United States. What's the world coming to?

    April 29, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Supergirllondon@twitter

    It's about time Obama answered his critics, but he shouldn't listen to them too much otherwise he'll start doubting every decision he makes.

    April 29, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Doug, New Jersey

    Ha ha, serious conversation when the marching orders were to call each and every person at one of these events a racist.

    Hey don't want to lose all your money = racist
    Don't want to live under a socialist nation = racist
    Speak the truth about libs = racist

    Call people like Steele, Powell, and Rice the N word = Tolerant Open-minded great human being

    (you support this if you vote Democrat)

    April 29, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. CallmeAl

    "Well, let me make a point. Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit — that wasn't from my — that wasn't me."

    I love quotes like this. It doesn't matter what party is in office, it's always someone else's fault that we are in the shape we are in. I am guessing the current Prez wasn't in office in the last few years when the prior administration was creating a deficit.

    This is all we hear anymore from our government Dems and Reps.."It's not my fault... it was them."

    Bravo for responsibility, oh wait...

    April 29, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Darko

    Remove 'tea bags' from the equation. Now. You've got A LOT of really angry Americans who don't like how you're spending their hard EARNED tax money.

    Taxes are high today and their going to get higher. FACT
    Spending is stupidly high right now, and it's goign to get higher. FACT

    Cap and Trade (failed in Europe)
    Nationalized HealthCare (failed in Europe)
    Illegal Immigration (failed in Europe)

    All 3 of these are coming down the pike. We're "investing' alright. Investing in failed policies. Isn't that what Obama is preaching that we're trying to get away from? What a joke. Welcome to reality people.

    April 29, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Dylan from MN

    Most of the teabaggers didn't even know what they hell they were protesting, they just hate Obama because someone who thinks for them hates him. How about forming your own opinion of the world?

    April 29, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. shucks

    He hasn't commented on it because of it's irrelevance. It was a bunch of white republican racists who really had nothing to object to other than the fact that the new president is african american. Here in Pennsylvania it was laughable the group that turned out. They all looked like religious right wing zealots and their subserviant wives. It really didn't demand any comment. It was nothing but pure republican rancor.

    April 29, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. Ed

    "The national "tea party" movement was inspired by CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli's late February outburst on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange."

    I saw this nonsense. I couldn't believe a grown man would be so childish.
    Give me the Warren Buffetts and the Bill Gross(s) for real insight.

    Leave the tea baggers in their playpen sucking on their thumbs.

    April 29, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  23. Dante

    Mr. President; tea parties were attended by dems, moderates, independents, and conservatives/republicans protesting the incredible spending fest that you have embarked on......yeah we get it mr. president, you inherited a big deficit.......that line is getting real old and has nothing to do with the projected 9-10 TRILLION deficits you plan to create.........and yes, we needed a stimulus package to help save our economy and the banks, but those same economists who said we needed the stimulus have overwhelmingly stated that your spending is way over the top, is not very stimulative where its needed, and is full of PORK which will bloat the government and create more WASTE.......and then you tell us with a straight face that you're going to fix our health care system because of wasteful spending.....our healthcare system and economy are gonna catch swine flu with you at the helm..... .and those of us who watch certain news channels on which you're not very popular are the 60 million voters who didn't vote for you because that's the only channel thats not part of your campaign team.......

    April 29, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "just waving tea bags around."

    LOL! And you people thought he had no sense of humor and couldn't be funny hahahaha...hilarious. And the GOP's double-entendre nightmare continues...

    April 29, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    If this dismissing of the citizens of the United States of America is not a wake up call to everyone, I do not know what it will take. This President doesn't have any intention of maintaining our republic as an independant nation. His only thoughts are about bring about a new world order.
    If you value your freedom I would wake up people! We are being sold into servidude.

    April 29, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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