As we edge closer to spending $1.9 trillion on COVID-19 relief, it is worth noting that a less generous package presented by the last Democratic president led to a political backlash that gave us Donald Trump. Twelve years ago this past week, CNBC’s Rick Santelli delivered his famous “rant” that inspired the rise of the Tea Party movement.
The source of Santelli’s outrage was a $787 billion stimulus package that, at the time, felt like a huge amount, and the $75 billion aid for homeowners with funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). While many of my Never Trump conservative brethren still see this movement as a largely positive phenomenon, I have long argued that there was a straight line from the Tea Party to MAGA. For sane conservatives, this was the beginning of the end.
Truth be told, the rise of the Tea Party had more to do with hating Barack Obama than it did with practical or constitutional concerns about spending. In this regard, the fact that Joe Biden arouses less hostility from the right redounds to his benefit—and suggests we may not soon witness a similar backlash.