Five Years Ago Today: Rick Santelli's Epic Rant Launched the Tea Party

It was on February 19, 2009, that CBNC’s Rick Santelli let rip the rant heard ’round the world. The day before, President Obama spent some of his honeymoon political capital on a proposal to subsidize the mortgages of about 9 million Americans, with taxpayer dollars. The media, still in full swoon over Obama (and most of the media remain in that state to this day), reported on the proposal without noting that it would force Americans who had been responsible with their decisions to subsidize millions who had not.


CBNC’s Rick Santelli was standing with traders in Chicago the morning of February 19. The mortgage proposal had him in high dudgeon. He turned to his fellow traders and said, “This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors’ mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills? Raise their hand.” The traders can be heard booing the proposal. Santelli turns back to the camera and makes his first slice of history, saying, “President Obama, are you listening?”

President Obama was not listening (well, unless you count the NSA). He hasn’t listened to this day. He would go on to ram Obamacare through a Democrat-controlled Congress despite the majority of the American people’s objections to that law. The majority still object to that law; Obama continues selling it anyway.

Santelli wasn’t finished. He noted that it is possible to take a prosperous nation to its knees with terrible, big government policies.

“Y’know, Cuba used to have mansions and a relatively decent economy. They moved from the individual to the collective. Now they’re driving ’54 Chevys, maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit,” he said.

A few seconds later, Santelli said something that launched a whole movement.


“We’re thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July,” Santelli said. “All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I’m going to start organizing.”

The Tea Party would go on to galvanize opposition to Obama’s policies and hand the U.S. House of Representatives to Republicans in 2010, along with several governorships and state legislatures. The Obama administration, or functionaries within it, would counter by using the IRS and other executive branch agencies to harass and slow the Tea Party’s growth heading into the 2012 election.

Watch Rick Santelli’s epic rant here.



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