CNBC's Kernen Declares Obama's Populist Tactics Proof He Advocates 'Redistribution of Wealth'

September 8th, 2010 2:12 PM

To many, it's hardly a revelation to most, but when someone keeps taking the same action over and over again, even to his detriment, it can reveal a lot about that individual's belief system.

This was an observation CNBC "Squawk Box" host Joe Kernen made about the Obama administration's willingness to embrace a populist "soak the rich" tactic against the wealthy in the United States, even though it isn't winning him favor with the American people, according to opinion polling. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows more people now think President Barack Obama's policies have hurt the economy than have helped. And Kernen called the unwillingness to change course evidence of the president's ideology - proof he does believe in the redistribution of wealth.

"When push comes to shove, the left wins out with this guy," Kernen said on the Sept. 8 broadcast of "Squawk Box." "Axelrod calls the shots when push comes to shove. And this will make the case for a populist argument that these rich people - soak the rich - they do not need this and we're going to cut for the middle class and we're going to pay for it by soaking the rich. And it's right down - but it also - he said it all along, but to his critics, those critics, it's more evidence of a redistribution that when it all comes down to it, the overriding mandate of this administration - it's a redistribution of wealth.

And even Kernen's "Squawk Box" co-host Carl Quintanilla said it was obvious this wasn't working.

"If that strategy had worked since he came into office - talking down Wall Street, scolding businesses, fat cats - his poll numbers would be higher," Quintanilla added. "So the question is, why isn't he adjusting?"

But Kernen says it's deeper than just a soak-the-rich philosophy for the sake of short-term political expediency, but that this is a belief Obama has held for decades.

"Because I think he really believes that wealth needs to be redistributed after the income disparity over the past 30 years," Kernen said. "I really think he believes and he'll forego some near-term job gains and every thing else."

In his first column for The New York Times on Sept. 7, Peter Orszag, Obama's former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, suggested that Obama should reconsider his administration's stance on allowing the Bush tax cuts expire. Moody's economist Mark Zandi, an expert the Obama administration had relied on heavily in 2009 to get the stimulus passed, also has questioned the administration's wisdom. And even a Times Sept. 8 story, which are traditionally sympathetic to Obama's causes, was also doubtful he could prevail, as Kernen pointed out.

"It's so obvious - even Orszag can figure that out," Kernen continued. "Even Zandi - just about everyone can figure out that you don't try to stimulate at the same time you're sucking money out of the economy. It makes no sense. But even The New York Times - ‘It's not clear that Mr. Obama can prevail given his,' and this is The New York Times, ‘given his own diminishing popularity the tepid economic recovery and the divisions within his own party.' It says a lot of nervous Democrats wish that he would give them some cover and say, all right, maybe we'll ..."