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. Melissa

    I've been saying that all along. That they aren't really protesting anything or they're making things up. Its been childish behavior.

    April 29, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. Jim in SC

    Obama;s #1 is a pitiful excuse, the same people that are criticizing him for spending too much are probably a lot of the same people who criticized Bush.

    Obama's number 2 in this story is absolutely wrong. There is not a consensus about what to do in this crisis. How can people listen to that and nod their head?

    April 29, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Tom McCarey

    Have you seen the movie "Bolt"? They artfully use the made up word redonkulous. This is what the tea baggers are. And while all of them aren't racist, more than a few are. The whole bunch of them should be ashamed.

    April 29, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. HonestMistake

    This man is completely out of touch with millions of normal Americans. Drinking game tonight – a shot for every time he says inherited.

    April 29, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Right Leaning Independent

    He inherited a $1.3 trillion dollar deficit and does not want to be outdone by Bush so he will triple it before he leaves office. This logic that he has inherited a deficit and poor economy and can only spend his way out of the hole is a joke. He is using this ruse as a means to spend like a typical liberal while appealing to Conservatives by saying, I had to do it. I hope he is prepared for the next president to continuely jab him about what he or she is going to inherit from Obama!

    April 29, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. sene

    Tell them Mr.President. They don't have a clue what a serious conversation is or what an actual idea is. All "they" know how to do is cry and rant (i.e glenn beck, sean hannity, limbaugh) and cry socialism.

    April 29, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. Integrity

    You may have inherited the deficit, but driving it up is your fault, Spending more on items that are unnecessary are your fault and the stimulus spending is your fault. Lack of Jobs is your fault.

    You asked for cuuts from federal employees, why dont you ask people who do it for a living. ITS CALLED LEAN MANUFACTURING. If Obama and the Congress would try LEAN MANUFACTURING they would see that expenses and waste can be cut, but Obama doesnt want to try.

    Obama and the Congress only want to spend and not listen to suggestions.

    April 29, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. Rich

    I think the tea party actually came back and slapped the Republican Party. Most of the teabaggers do not even keep up with all that Obama has done for this nation. They were just upset that there is a Democrat in the White House. It has been said that the Republican party is dying, this may actually be a reality since now only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republican. Jump off the sinking ship before it's to late!

    April 29, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. SOL


    Grow up and respond to criticisim like a man. When ronald regan won the president the economy was in worse shape than today. He put his vision with tax cuts. Not once did he complain that he inherited
    the mess from Carter. He explained his vision as a great communicator. When Bush took Office after Clinton the economy was on a downslide. He put his vision like a man and never complained that he inherited the mess. If you feel that you must spend in order to save this economy than say so. Many americans diagree with your policy of spending, so just explain to us why you need to spend without insulting us. I thought petty politics is over. I see it is not.

    April 29, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. seebofubar

    When will Obama learn to shut up! I stared out liking this guy, now that I've learned that he has absolutly no clue how to acomplish anything. I'm tired of hearing him or anything about him. He is a classic novice manager, plenty of activity but no achievment.

    April 29, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. HonestMistake

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

    Can you imagine what the next president is going to say he inherited from Obama – a $10 trillion deficit. Either that or we will all be speaking Mandarin by then.

    April 29, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Mark

    The Pied Piper of Hamelin will lead u to the end... His music is beautiful and can lead mice and men....when its time to pay he will end your day....beware of the taxes he will pose..u will wish they had been exposed. Umderstand what he will do because he will take advantage of you.

    April 29, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. Chi Town

    "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."

    Oh you got that right... don't forget the 3.7 Trillion dollar budget you passed... you know 1.7 Trillion higher than the one your blaming it on.
    That... plus the mass increase in buisness, death, and investment taxes... You havne't even touched healthcare yet which isn't going to be free. The 9 thousand ear marks you said you wouldn't do because you never waste a crisis.

    You know... 1981 was worse... so get over the depression crap... and since it's turning... are you going to STOP the rest of the money???? doubt it.... NEVER WASTE A CRISIS... your admins words... not mine.

    April 29, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. Rick

    He didn't have to do that. They made fools of themselves all on their own. They're tea bag.gers! Something needs to be done about The F Word Channel though, as Jack Cafferty would call it. Isn't there such a thing as media mal-practice?? Or aren't there any laws against inciting violence? Why is Charles Man.son in jail if Glenn Be.ck and Sean Han.nity are allowed to spew their hate and encourage violence against the government freely? (Drive a stake throught the bloodsuckers hearts?? Come on now)

    April 29, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |

    Love him hes funny! But really President Obama you Know it was Nothing More then a Fox driven Hate Fest for you!

    April 29, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. Kiki

    Apparently Mr. Obama is not listening to the American people. To dismiss the tea parties as "people waving tea bags" goes to show how out of touch he is with this country. Yes, he talks to us, but does he listen to us? The answer is NO. The tea parties were not just about "waving tea bags" (he must have tuned into msnbc). The American people are fed up with his spending of our money and piling on others' debts on the hard working taxpayers. LISTEN to the people Mr. president. We did not just wave tea bags, .....you must not have read the signs we were holding!!!

    April 29, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Bev - NYC

    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.

    April 29, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Enlightened Voter

    The tea baggers were ok with bush rebuilding Iraq yet they have a problem with President Obama rebuilding America.

    April 29, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. ek

    I'm still waiting for someone (journalist, politician , . . anyone?) to draw the distinction between wasteful spending and investing for future returns. Spending millions (or is it billions?) of dollars in Iraq on a war that never should have been started is wasting money. Spending money to prevent financial collapse and to reform healthcare are investments that will provide financial returns in the future.

    April 29, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. Peter E

    Those teabaggers are nothing but partisan hypocrites. They had no problem with Bush Jr. doubling our national debt. They were silent about the burden for future generations then. They should have protested for the past eight years. They didn't. To read their own words upon them 'It's too late!'

    April 29, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Leta

    Speaking of Banks...I remember seeing Joe (bugsy looking fellow) the President of Addison State Bank 1983-1985 (Northern Trust what ever they are calling it now) Down Town Dallas, Texas 1996. Corner of Field and Ross 7:30 a.m. I think he is backing Al and Hillary......Joe was the one that moved the money around when the wires for Amon came through!!!

    April 29, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Shadysider

    While some tea party attendees had a real reason to protest, the GOP and FOX news turned it into a charade and an opportunity to lament their loss at the polls.

    April 29, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. Peter E

    The protesters want their cake and eat it too. They say they're overburdened with taxes and want tax cuts, and yet they also want to aleviate the tax burden on future generations. We've heard it for decades now. We've seen the results. These are mutually exclusive. So if you're worried about the debt for future generations then put your money where your mouth is: pay YOUR taxes, pay YOUR debt so that you don't pass that debt down to YOUR children!

    April 29, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. Jon

    Finally !
    A President we can believe in.

    The republicians just need to go far away. Like an island somewhere.

    April 29, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. Annie

    I would love it if our President would have a town hall with some of the tea partiers (I can't say tea baggers without thinking of the urban dictionary definition and getting my tickle bone in an uproar). He would probably alieve some of their fears that he's a living breathing boogey man. However, most won't be able to understand him, sadly.

    April 29, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
1 2 3 4 5