Transcript: Thom Hartmann: Have Tea Partiers turned in Tea Cups for Champagne Flutes? 6 January '12
You know, the Tea Party is dead - no one goes to their rallies anymore, no one is dressing up like our founding fathers, no one is mailing tea bags to their Members of Congress.
In fact - if you listen closely - you can hear an eerie silence coming out of Fox so-called News - where NO ONE is talking about the Tea Party anymore.
But while the Tea Party as a supposedly grassroots phenomenon is very much dead - the Tea Party as it REALLY is - as a movement founded and funded by millionaires and billionaires to look out for the best interests of millionaire and billionaires is still very much alive.
And you can find this movement thriving on Capitol Hill.
Everyone knows that Congress is full of millionaires.
The place is busting at the seams with millionaires - practically half of all our lawmakers in Washington, DC are millionaires.
There are millionaires in the Republican Party - and there are millionaires in the Democratic Party.
It's millionaires galore.
Looking strictly at personal wealth - it's really, really hard to find lawmakers who are a part of the 99%.
In fact - the average net worth of Democrats in Congress is $635,000.
And the average net worth of the Progressive Caucus within the Democratic Party - which promotes policies that best represent the 99% - is even higher at $639,000 total.
The average wealth of Republicans is even higher than that - more than $834,000.
And then there's the Tea Party caucus - those 60 lawmakers - many of whom were propelled into office by what looked like a grassroots movement of average Americans in 2010 - who claim to be representing the 99% the very best.
Turns out they're the richest of the rich.
The average net worth of a Tea Partier in Congress is a whopping $1.8 million bucks.
1.8 million bucks - and six of the Tea Partiers are worth more than 20 million bucks.
And these are the people average Tea Party Republicans think represent their interests?
Well, the fact of the matter is, they don't...and here's the dirty little secret - they never have.
From the very beginning - the Tea Party was a big ruse.
The prominent Tea Party group - the Tea Party Patriots - says the movement started one month after Obama was elected with a rant by CNBC talking hear Rick Santelli - they write:
Tea Party Patriots wishes to extend a special thank you to Rick Santelli for his rant on February 19, 2009, which started this entire movement. Without Rick's rant, this movement would never have started. Many others will try to take credit but don't be fooled. He was the spark that began this fire.
Well, let's take a look at that rant:
How about this President and new administration: Why don't you put up a website to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages or would we like to at least buy cars, buy houses in foreclosure, and give them to people that might have a chance to actually prosper down the road and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water.
This is America. How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and cant pay their bills? Raise their hand. How about we all?
President Obama, are you listening?
Were thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I'm going to start organizing it.
And the rest - as they say - is history.
But what did we REALLY see right there in that clip?
We saw a millionaire TV anchor - on the trading floor of the CME Group in Chicago surrounded by millionaire banksters - speaking to other millionaires at the anchor desk on CNBC - and yelling and screaming about how terrible it is that our government would even consider helping poor people who were conned into buying an exploding mortgage by a bunch of millionaires.
That's what started the Tea Party - millionaires mad about poor people getting bailed out - about 4 months after Wall Street got a 700 billion bailout from Congress and 7 trillion from the Fed.
Sensing something was brewing, billionaires like the Koch brothers - and multimillionaires like Dick Armey seized on it.
And using their enormous wealth - these millionaires and billionaires duped low-information voters across America into boarding buses and attending rallies put on by other millionaires - featuring millionaire speakers - and carried mostly on a television network owned by Rupert Murdoch, a billionaire.
What followed was a truly bizarre phenomenon in American politics.
Middle class Americans mobilized to protest against their own best interests at the behest of these millionaires and billionaires.
They railed against average people getting health care - and supported Republican initiatives that would increase profits for millionaire for-profit health insurance CEOs.
They railed against energy reform on behalf of millionaire oil barons.
They railed against Wall Street reform on behalf of millionaire banksters.
They railed against the transparency in our elections on behalf of millionaires at the Chamber of Commerce.
And eventually - they went out and voted for a bunch of millionaires for Congress.
Everything that was done by the Tea Party in 2009 and 2010 was done because millionaires were pulling the strings - and - tragically - because naive Americans didn't know any better.
Which is probably why today - most of these Tea Partiers have wisened up - they have stopped listening to the millionaires - and they've stopped going to rallies.
But that's fine with the millionaires - because they got what they wanted - a majority in the House of Representatives to stop President Obama's agenda - whether it was stopping tax increases on the rich - or defunding reforms on Wall Street - or blocking a comprehensive energy plan to deal with climate change.
It was never really a Tea Party - it was a Millionaire's Party!
Which is why in the last three months - once it became clear that the Tea Party was all just a scam - and the populist rage was still out there - a real 99% movement was born - the Occupy Wall Street movement.
And where were the millionaires and billionaires then?
They were up in their high-rise offices - way above the occupations below - and look closely and you'll see they're proudly proclaiming themselves to be the 1% - those four windows say "we are the 1%" - and raining down leaflets on the 99% telling struggling Americans below to get a job.
Let's not get duped again by millionaires and billionaires who want to suck all the wealth out of this nation for themselves.
The Tea Party is dead - in fact it was never really alive.
But the real 99% Movement is still very much alive - and is our nation's best shot at saving this nation from oligarchy.
So get out there and occupy something.
That's The Big Picture.