Remember Rick Santelli? He’s the CNBC financial analyst who, in 2009, was credited with beginning America’s love affair with a then-budding political movement which later dubbed itself “The Tea Party”.
It was during a live report, when Santelli lost it and began loudly screaming about President Obama and the Pelosi-Reid liberal power-o-sphere over their support of the economic bailout.
Well, all the elderly, white, rural, religious fundamentalist, usually Southern, Conservatives heard the call and made history - including the flood of (mostly fascinating) Tea Party Congressional candidates who came into office 2010 after apexing with Glenn Beck’s march on Washington D.C.
Five years later, the now-lauded Santelli could barely hold himself together when confronted with the truth about all of his economic predictions, libertarian-leaning economic ideas, and the current state of affairs in Congress when a CNBC host happened to point out that almost everything he had ever predicted had been terribly, terribly wrong.
Santelli’s primary argument was that the President’s administration was going to essentially tank the economy by triggering rapid inflation leading inevitably to the devaluation of the Dollar as an international currency.
The only problem with his argument is that none of this has occurred. On the contrary, the economy has been making steady gains in jobs and the GDP numbers even surprise optimistic economists. The dollar is remaining steady, albeit damaged from previous years, and there has been no hyperinflation as has been seen in places like Greece.
For anyone who hasn’t been following the likes of Paul Krugman, Mark Thoma or Brad DeLong over the past few years, the substance of the argument here might be news in and of itself, but rather the rare occasion when an intellectual leader of Tea Party economics gets intellectually demolished on live television. Leave it to Steve Liesman to call out the devastatingly harmful, destructive stupid of Rick Santelli:
“It’s impossible for you to have been more wrong, Rick. Your call for inflation, the destruction of the dollar, the failure of the U.S. economy to rebound. Rick, it’s impossible for you to have been more wrong. Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick… There is no piece of advice that you’ve given that’s worked, Rick. Not a single one… The higher interest rates never came. The inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened. The dollar never crashed, Rick. There isn’t a single one that’s worked for you.”
Did Liesman’s thorough debunking of Santelli’s conservative cheer-leading change his mind? I sincerely doubt it. The likes of Tea Party Scions like Santelli have proven themselves incapable of looking inward or evaluating fact-based trends in, well, much of anything.
What this segment does succeed at doing publicly is expose the weakness of the Tea Party’s claim to intellectual honesty. The very man whose ideas they have fallen back on for five years would rather leave a live interview instead of showing any pride in the success of his economic worldview - likely because that view has brought little, if any success at all.