April 29th, 2009
04:00 PM ET
9 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. just another "arrogant" American

    Of course.... blame Bush for everything. I suppose Bush also started the swine flu pandemic too, right?

    Obama, you're not even a man, because a real man takes responsibility no matter what the obstacles. My son was born with cerebral palsy–does that mean I should just throw my hands in the air when things aren't going well? After all, my wife and I "inherited" the situation, and even though it's been enormously difficult, we've made the most out of everything we've gotten. You wanted the job right? Nobody forced you to take it Mr. President.

    April 29, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. Steve

    Excellent! He basically told them "When you want to discuss things like reasonable adults, I'll be here for that, but when you want to be hysterical and silly, you can go somewhere else because adults are talking." If the Republicans want to behave like children, then that's how we should treat them. And at the moment they're not acting mature enough to be granted any credibility.

    April 29, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Gary

    Obama is WRONG!
    Bush was WRONG!

    We have to balance the budget. We have to cut spending. If we want to put out a small amount to stabilize banks fine but they didn't need a huge bail out. That so-called stimulus bill was full of pork, the budget full of earmarks. This is PATHETIC. OBAMA IS PATHETIC!

    If he really wants to respond to the Tea Party movement he needs to get serious about fiscal responsibility. We have to stop promising free stuff to people. We need a third party and we need one soon. The tech bubble recession, 9/11 recession, mortgage failure recession – – these are all excuses to borrow money against our children to fund their pathetic pet projects!

    April 29, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. Karen - Missouri

    First of all, trivializing the actual tea party of the 1700s is quite stupid. Our economy and government have nothing in common with that tea party. It's just a bunch of whining Republicans trying to get a spotlight again instead of working to come up with some creative ideas that aren't just old Bush's ideas over and over that created this mess to start with.

    April 29, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Chris

    The reason why I don't respect the tea parties is b/c it was filled w/ those who didn't vote for him (which was spinned as if it represented all americans, and yes some DEMS didn't vote Obama), and was advertised for weeks, by FOX news network, and their anchors...that's just not fair and balanced journalism.....most states w/ the biggest turnouts, were and are, red states.....that have never, and will never for the forseeable future vote DEM.........Obama has took the lead of FDR during the depression.....deficit spending....I think it worked......Americans voted FDR in for 4 consecutive terms (is that failure)....FDR passed away as President of the U.S.A., and Truman took over.

    April 29, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. Jeb Black

    Obama has no clue what the tea parties are about.

    April 29, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. Got it right.........

    President Obama is absolutely correct !!! Ultimately, we must remember, the long range goal of the GOP is to bankrupt our Fedral Government. This way, they (GOP) can implement the complete privitization of America and institute an American "serf" system without a middle class !!!

    April 29, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. E Ruff

    If a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit is part of the problem he inherited then how is increasing it 10 fold the solution?

    April 29, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Joe Green

    I think the "teabaggers" should take their lead from some of the Conservative Governors who are positioning themselves for a 2012 run.

    Don't like the stimulus? SEND YOUR CHECK BACK, and that includes the $600 that GEORGE BUSH mailed you last year.

    Come on, we're WAITING..... where's the checks?

    Oh, right.

    April 29, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. Mike, Syaracuse, NY

    Obama says he admires Lincoln. When Lincoln was sworn in the country was on the verge of Civil War, a much worse situation than we find ourselves today. Yet you won't find one speech where Lincoln blamed his predecessor for the 'mess' he 'inherited'. Lincoln just got down to work saving the Union. Obama should take note. It's not Bush's deficit, it's Obama's deficit and it's getting worse not better. Stop blaming others and FIX IT!

    April 29, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Brandon

    You tell 'em, Obama.

    April 29, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. bill

    So I guess as a sitting senator in the majority party he had nothing to do with the budget? Maybe he needs to go back to law school and learn how spending bills are passed – they started in the House and the Senate. So in 2006 and 2007 HIS PARTY passed the spending bills that he is now claiming he inherited. He was a voting member of those bills he is now claiming he inherited, and his response – SPEND MORE!

    April 29, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. Larry

    Even the Tea Baggers had no idea why they were there ...

    No idea what they were protesting ...

    More ... and getting beyond old ... Republican BS

    April 29, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Lisa in NC

    A rare glimpse at the real Obama. Disrespectful towards people that do not agree with him instead of taking their concerns seriously.

    April 29, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. Sean

    Serious conversation?? Really?? Hmmm....you mean a conversation where he stands in front of his teleprompter and puts down, ridicules, and dismisses anyone who disagrees with him and his policies....no REAL commitment to having a conversation....not with anyone who has any suggestions that don't go along with what he has already planned.

    As far as this "inherited" business.....he was a part of the congress when this all went down. So, he didn't inherit it, he is one of the owners of it. Remember, the Democrats were in charge of the congress the last 2 years. They could have done a number of things to stop this.

    As far as the Tea Parties...they are good for the nation to help us focus on his proposed spending agenda. Otherwise, they will slip in any spending they can in the hope that we aren't paying attention to them!!

    April 29, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Jefe

    He doesn't realize that Republicans don't WANT to bring healthcare costs down anymore than they want us to end our reliance on oil.

    It is an observed fact that the average Republican would rather watch $700 Billion flow into middle-eastern countries coffers than into the hands of progressive American corporations. Just the same, they would rather see 50% of our GDP go toward for-profit health insurance than 5% go toward government-run insurance.

    April 29, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. Tina

    "Waving teabags around.".....Ooooh snap !!!! So much for the tea baggers who thought they were spiting the President with their hatefilled signs. This is too funny.

    April 29, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. Wayne

    When do these "serious" discussions start...it's been 100 days now. Rhetoric is not the same as discourse.

    April 29, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. SLM

    Obamas 3 favorite words.....I inherited it! He owns the economy now, he is the one who is spending more than all the other presidents put together. His policies are the ones that will make this recession last longer than necessary. He is the one who will be raising our taxes to cover HIS spending habits............just like California, the politicians over spend and the taxpayers pay for it.

    April 29, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. GuyInVA

    I love how every leftist protester is always a champion of the 1st Amendment. Now protesters espousing fiscally conservative views are marginalized by the administration. And don't forget everyone on MSNBC, or CNN's Anderson Cooper (well, who would know better than AC about the perils of "teabagging"?). By the way CNN, is Susan Roesgen back from her "preplanned" vacation yet?

    April 29, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  21. Olumadunwa

    I drew a lot of inspirations from all the bold moves Obama has made in the very short time that he's been in office. What I don't understand is the fact that he wants everyone to love him – that's a dream that will NEVER come true. Mr. Obama, there is no way every American will agree with your approach; the most important thing is to be sure that you have a positive agenda that you've tabled and carefully examined with the brains around you. Constructive criticisms do help a lot too, listen to them and act on them if necessary.

    When the huge success comes knocking as a result of the carefully calculated risks that you took; everyone will shower their praises on you and seek to associate themselves with the "Obama Agenda" that pulled America out of the holes. Some will be too proud to eat their words, but at least, they will keep mute. Tea-party or no tea-party, it's called freedom of expression.

    April 29, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  22. Tom-in-TX

    Why in world is it necessary to do everything in the first 100days ?? Is there something he’s trying to hide and using his star power to gets things slipped in ?? We are in an unprecedented financial crisis and to pull in heath care reform/spending at the same time just appears to be a power play to implement more social programs that will only put more burden on future generations. I can’t wait to see what other critical social programs can be created due the Swine-Flu crisis.

    April 29, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. Bob in Pa

    I know plenty of regular Dems and even liberals that feel the same way. Tell the truth BO, your 2010 Budget is an 800 pound Gorilla from which there is no escape.

    April 29, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. Mike in MN

    Obama is really, really bad aT math.
    He says he inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit. He has increased it to 1.9 trilliion.
    We needed a stimulus bill. He gave us a $787 billion one full of pork and half of which will not be spent until after 2010 when the economy is supposed to be recovered and growing and no stimulus spending will be needed.
    Who says it is all about the 1.9 trillion deficit for this year and a $787 billion stimulus bill.
    It is about the stimulus and the bailouts and the current budget which the CBO says will add $9.3 trillion of deficit spending over the next decade.
    So let's not pretend it is about 2.7 trillion of new spending. It is about trillions and trillions of new spending and the resulting 9.3 trillion in debt and how the hell you think we can pay for it.
    GET A CLUE OBAMA!!!!!

    April 29, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  25. Kurt C.

    That's just an out an out lie. He inherited a 480 billion dollar deficit which was pretty high and even liberals criticized it, and promptly made it a 2 trillion dollar deficit. And liberals think a 2 trillion dollar deficit is OK.

    I wish Obama would stop lying.

    You're pretty naive if you think 95% of anyone got tax cuts. If he gives you a tax cut in one bill and then increases everyones' taxes with another bill, that's NOT giving 95% of anyone a tax cut. You people are the most gullible people I have ever seen.

    April 29, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
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