In February 2009, the White House announced the Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan to help distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure. The next day, a financial reporter spoke out on television against this new government assistance. His speech, which was posted on the Drudge Report, became the rallying cry that set off the official Tea Party movement.
CNBC’s Rick Santelli’s Chicago Tea Party
On February 19, 2009, CNBC reporter Rick Santelli made an impassioned rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In reaction to news that the Administration was going to help homeowners whose mortgages were underwater, Santelli called for a national referendum to gauge whether the citizenry really wanted, “to subsidize the losers’ mortgages,” or rather to “reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water.” His question caused the traders on the floor to cheer. He then turned away from the camera and addressed the room, “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage, that has an extra bathroom, and can’t pay their bills?” The traders booed. Santelli turned back to the camera. “President Obama, are you listening?”