CNBC’s Rick Santelli is a man who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. His Feb. 19, 2009, rant was credited with inspiring the start of the Tea Party. It’s not alone. Santelli raises his voice on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade whenever he feels that an important point of information isn’t getting enough attention.
Complete with arm waving, props and a lot more facts than liberals are comfortable with, here are what we at the Business and Media Institute have decided are the five best Rick Santelli rants of all time.
Santelli’s frustration with the system was a theme that resonated with the American people. His enthusiastic ranting gave the motivation to start an entire movement and revitalize voters worn out by the daily strain of politics. While critics mock his fiery persona, they can’t deny the impact that he has had.
Santelli helped galvanize the anger and frustration felt by those who soon became the Tea Party. Five years later, his words still serve as a benchmark in modern American politics.
1 - The Rant Heard Round the World
This was easily No. 1 on any list. The Tea Party can trace its roots to this Santelli Rant. “How many of you people want to pay for their neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills? Raise their hand,” Santelli called out. “President Obama, are you listening?”
“We’re thinking about having a Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I’m going to start organizing,” Santelli declared as cheers and whistles erupted behind him.
Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor on “Squawk Box” that day, jokingly congratulated Santelli on is “new incarnation as a revolutionary leader.” Little did he know that his words would end up being prophetic.
2. ‘Tea Party Conservatives, Listen Up!’
Furiously gesturing at poll results on white board, Santelli once again called on conservatives to act.
"Congress, you really ought to listen up... those tea party conservatives, listen up!" Santelli emphasized, calling on the very movement that he helped create.
To reinforce this rant, Santelli cited a Reason-Rupe poll that said that 70 percent of Americans opposed raising the debt ceiling in September 2013, but 63 percent viewed Congress as being out of touch.
3. ‘What Are We, A Banana Republic?’
In August 2013, when the stock market rallied after a poor jobs report, he argued that the reaction to the jobs report was a bad sign for the nation’s future. According to Santelli , a market that would react so much to so little was doomed to suffer for it.
“See, those people aren’t working. They’re not buying houses, they’re not buying cars. They’re using services, they may be using entitlements or welfare. You can’t hide those millions of people forever. So we wonder why we see our costs to take care of people who are in between jobs rising faster than other areas, less improvement in the economy, not good GDP, that’s why. You can’t play this three card monte game for long. And to see the stock market rally on crappy data to me is just a horrible dynamic. What are we, a banana republic?” he asked.
As the discussion with other CNBC contributors continued, Santelli continued his complaints. “I don’t give a blankety-blank who caused it or why the trend is going, but I know one thing for sure: if these continued trends on demographics, participation rate continue, there’s going to be like 50 people supporting the country.”
4. Was the Tea Party dead in 2012? Not even close.
It’s been just over two years now since Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, suggested on “Squawk Box” that the Tea Party was “done .” Santelli responded with such enthusiasm that co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin was quick to make sure that Santelli understood that it was Brooks, and not him, who made the comment about the Tea Party.
“While the vandals are on the street corners, the Tea Party conservatives they’re working state houses, the governorships, the mayorships, the Senate, the House.” Santelli said. “See, they understand, they’ve read the Constitution.”
5. ‘What’s up Doc-tor Bernanke?’
Santelli called out then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for not speaking out about how bad the job market really was until after the 2012 election. “Where was Ben Bernanke with that comment? I’ll tell you what, many of my friends voted in that election because the economy was getting better and then unemployment rate was going down! But it really wasn’t real! And what do we get from Ben? Absolute and utter silence! I think that’s a bit disingenuous, personally.”
— Mike Ciandella is Research Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Mike Ciandella on Twitter.