One day before what many say will be an historic election; CNBC appears to finally be embracing one of the most famous moments in the network’s history: A Feb. 19, 2009 “rant heard around the world” by CME Group floor reporter Rick Santelli, which is credited by many for igniting the Tea Party movement.

Throughout the day on Nov. 1, CNBC aired a 30-second spot encouraging viewers to tune into its network for election night coverage. The promo said to tune to CNBC “when the economy is topic A” and concluded with part of Santelli’s famous rant, “President Obama, are you listening?”

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So more government isn’t the answer to all of our problems? For a brief moment, that seemed to be the message Huffington Post editor-in-chief and co-founder Arianna Huffington was conveying. 

On CNBC’s Oct. 5 broadcast of “Squawk Box,” Huffington, author of “Third World America” explained what she thought the role of government should be in an American economic system. Now whether she was playing to the CNBC pro-capitalist audience or not remains to be seen, but she did depart with the so-called progressive/liberal view of government’s role in the economy, and criticized the Obama administration.

“[S]o when it comes to the Obama administration’s policies, the problem has been rewarding people for taking excessive risks, which is not at the heart of capitalism,” Huffington said. “You and I have talked about that before. At the heart of capitalism is the assumption that if you take excessive risks and you fail, you’re on your own. The taxpayer is not on the hook. And we still have left the systemic risk in the system despite the financial reform bill that was passed. ‘Too big to fail’ has not ended and that really is the potential problem in the future.”



As we near the midterm elections, left-wingers will be reading from the same tired playbook – the attempted marginalization of the Tea Party movement, but just more of it. But more and more, they are discovering the tactics are tougher to defend, as their side has their own fringe, loose-cannon elements.

On CNBC’s Sept. 29 “Squawk Box,” hosts Joe Kernen and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera went after Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell for what seems to be hypocrisy – a willingness to attack one side for extremism, while ignoring extreme elements on the left. Rendell was asked by Kernen to elaborate on remarks he made earlier this month, that some Republicans are “fruit loops,” “whackos,” and “flat-out crazy.”

KERNEN: I want to talk to you about something, later about -- you're calling Tea Party people wing nuts and fruit loops?
RENDELL: Not all of them.
KERNEN: Not all of them? You saw the president, the president basically said that most of them, most of the Tea Party “are directed and financed by powerful and special interests lobbies,” this is in the Journal today. That's most of them and the rest of them are bigots. So you're either directed by special interests …
RENDELL: I don't believe it.
KERNEN: Seventy-one percent of Republicans, according to this poll today in the Journal identify – so, you've just trashed the entire half of the country.
CARUSO-CABRERA: He says slowly but surely, the GOP is taken over by whackos.
RENDELL: There’s no question about that.



It’s a really skewed view of the relationship between citizens and the government – that anything you earn and get to keep by not paying to the government in the form of taxes is a show of benevolence from the government.

But that’s apparently the view of Richard H. Thaler, professor at the University of Chicago. In the Sept. 26 New York Times, Thaler, declares that tax cuts are a gift in his op-ed “What the Rich Don’t Need.”

“WANT to give affluent households a present worth $700 billion over the next decade?” Thaler wrote. “In a period of high unemployment and fiscal austerity, this idea may seem laughable. Amazingly, though, it is getting traction in Washington. I am referring, of course, to the current debate about whether to extend all, or just some, of the tax cuts of President George W. Bush – cuts that are due to expire at year-end. They’re expiring because the only way they could be enacted initially was by pretending that they were temporary.”

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Whenever President Barack Obama defends what his presidency to date, specifically on economic issues, he'll speak of inheriting a bad economy from the previous administration, and then assures listeners of his intention to make the economy his top priority.

So why hasn't he done it? Why have there been other distractions like cap-and-trade, ObamaCare, bailouts, etc. and not a push for a real so-called infrastructure stimulus, like the president proposed publicly earlier this week.  On CNBC's Sept. 10 "Squawk Box," host Joe Kernen asked NBC "Meet the Press" moderator why the support from the president's own party isn't enthusiastic about Obama's new stimulus proposal.

"I am trying to figure out, where is the Democratic leadership?" Kernen said. "Were you not surprised that after the speech and after the proposals, I don't know of a single person in a leadership position that said, ‘Yes Mr. President, that's a great idea.' All I saw was [Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael] Bennet using the s-word, which he isn't supposed to use and isn't that surreal? I mean it's like - the president almost seems like he's lonely at this point with some of this stuff?"



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.



February 2009 was a pretty dark time for the conservative movement. The arguably most liberal president in the history of the United States has been sworn in to office just weeks early. The Congress had solid Democratic majorities in both chambers. And there were overtures that only way to save the nation from suffering the worst of a downtrodden economy was through an avalanche of costly legislation that would create huge budget deficits and ever-expanding bureaucracy.

But in the midst of that dark spell, CNBC's Rick Santelli lit the spark that ignited the conservative pushback. On CNBC's Feb. 19, 2009 "Squawk Box," Santelli called for a "tea party" in Lake Michigan to protest the idea the Obama administration was preparing to enact a massive housing bailout to reward people who took part in risky behavior by purchasing a home they couldn't afford.

According to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, now the chairman of FreedomWorks, often portrayed as a Tea Party villain by the American left, Santelli really is a father of the movement. Armey, along with Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, credit Santelli in an Aug. 17 Wall Street Journal op-ed and more extensively in their book "Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto." And on CNBC's Aug. 19 "Squawk Box," Armey explained the importance of Santelli.



If it were only that simple - that is the way CNBC's Rick Santelli would have it.

On CNBC's June 28 "Squawk Box," CNBC's senior economics reporter Steve Liesman vigorously defended the need for higher tax rates as a measure to cut federal deficits. Others argued that government revenues would increase if tax rates were lower because it would stimulate growth. (h/t Real Clear Politics Video)

"Let me get this straight - all you guys want to cut taxes en route to bringing down the deficit?" Liesman asked.

But according to Santelli, it has nothing to do with taxes, but the role of government in the economy.



Wow, just wow. Never would have seen this one coming, but is one of the standard-bearers of the media elite recognizing the Obama administration's anti-business populist tone is inhibiting the U.S. economy?

On the June 18 broadcast of CNBC's "Squawk Box," NBC "Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory was asked to respond to a June 18 New York Times article by David Sanger suggesting the Obama administration may be "overstepping" and discouraging business growth in the United States. Gregory told "Squawk Box" viewers that in his view they were and called it "a real problem."

"It is, certainly beyond Washington," Gregory explained. "You all know it talking to business leaders every day and I do speak to business leaders quite often as well and I hear it time and time again that what you got at the administration are two problems. One, you've got nobody in the inner sanctum of the President's advisers who has ever run a business - who have never run a business. And that's a real problem. I think there's a level of recognition about that being a problem in the West Wing as well. But the rhetoric and the policy substantively, a lot of people feel, is anti-business and getting to a point where it could really discourage businesses in the United States and certainly the multinationals working here as well. That's a problem and I think that element of criticism from Joe Barton, while off the reservation substantively, got to that larger point, which is this populist string."



Maybe President Barack Obama watched a little too much of the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night.



The European Union and the International Monetary Fund to the rescue! The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) soars and investors breathe a sign of relief. But where's this $1 trillion in bailout funds for Greece coming from?

On CNBC's May 10 "Squawk Box," host Joe Kernen channeled Rick Santelli's anti-bailout populism, suggesting it was important to note that this bailout was made possible in part by the American taxpayer.

"On one thing, Rick - because you started the whole thing where you said, ‘Are you listening, President Obama?' about paying for your neighbor's mortgage," Kernen said. "Are you, could you really tell the American taxpayer, you can connect the dots between them and Greece? I mean are they paying for some lavish benefits in Greece right now?"



Although to ask this question is to invite with a good degree of criticism, it is still worth asking: Is Obama administration's approach to publicly reprimanding private industry cause for concern?

On CNBC's May 4 "Squawk Box," host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera raised this point and asked Washington correspondent John Harwood if White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' recent statement BP was a little overboard.

"The spokesperson says, quote, ‘We're going to keep our boot on the throats of BP,'" Caruso-Cabrera said. "How is the Business Council going to react to that when they see President Obama?"

Harwood, who often goes easy on the Obama administration, wasn't so quick to criticize Gibbs for this.  His explanation was that it was a little "hostile," but repeated Gibbs' suggestion it was just a regional saying.