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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rick Santelli vs White House

Rick Santelli of CNBC went on a "tirade" against the stimulus bill, specifically the housing portion of the plan. Video is at YouTube and shown below.

Truly a nice little rant, but no more than conservative critics have been saying this whole time, yet, there is something different about this and that is the fact that it has now been given a huge spotlight, by the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs publicly, who has put Santelli into the spotlight by issuing a direct response.

Gibbs took on CNBC’s Rick Santelli in unusually personal terms after being asked a question about Santelli’s bracing critique during a regular White House briefing.

“I’ve watched Mr. Santelli on cable the past 24 hours or so. I’m not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives but the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgages, stay in their jobs, pay their bills, send their kids to school,” Gibbs said. “I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader that it was good for Main Street. I think the verdict is in on that,” the press secretary said, poking directly at the cable journalist, who reports from the trading floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Gibbs insisted Santelli was misinformed when he said Obama’s program would amount to a transfer of money from prudent taxpayers to those who had taken reckless risks.

“Mr. Santelli has argued, I think quite wrongly, that this plan won’t help everyone,” Gibbs said. “This plan helps people who have been playing by the rules. ... I would encourage him to read the president’s plan. ... I’d be more than happy to have him come here to read it. I’d be happy to buy him a cup of coffee — decaf,” the press secretary said, in a not-so-subtle jab at Santelli’s frantic style.

So, why would the White House think giving a man on a soapbox a bigger soapbox is a smart idea?

Ambinder has an idea about that:

Easy: they'd rather the opposition be identified with Santelli and stock brokers than with, say, a Joe the Plumber type

This could very well backfire because by highlighting Santelli, more "Joes" will now become aware of Santelli's concerns, even if they hadn't been before.

There have already been stories out showing the stimulus bill is chalk full of pork, quite a chunk of it benefiting Democratic John Murtha personally as well as some tidbits for Nancy Pelosi (tens of millions of dollars spent on behalf of the salt marsh harvest mouse, etc... (H/T Powerline on the Pelosi item)

The White House is spending this kind of time defending the housing proposal because the public, via people like Santelli, Limbaugh and other conservative pundits, are becoming aware of exactly the type of porkfest this stimulus bill truly is, despite Obama's assurances that "pet projects" weren't involved.

The more people that listen to Gibbs and actually read the bill, the more people will realize exactly what pockets their tax dollars are going to be shoved into.