Santelli Urges Focus, Debate over Policy, Instead of Tea Party

With the elections looming, one of the centerpieces of the news coverage has been on the Tea Party movement and the types of candidates they’re putting forth. But is that where the focus should be?

According to CNBC CME Group reporter Rick Santelli, it’s a peculiar phenomenon that the Tea Party has been debated more than many of the federal government’s costly initiatives including TARP.

Santelli’s remarks came during CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Oct. 29 as he and The Economist magazine’s Greg Ip, discussed the merits of a tax cut to stimulate the economy. However, some argue that would be Keynesian economics, which has failed to work so far.

“Short-term Keynesian? You know listen, my problem is, what do you define short term?” Santelli replied. “It's funny, I think there's more debate about the Tea Party movement than there ever was about TARP, than there ever was about $787 billion of stimulus money. You know, we need to start focusing on energy and not on puritan background of candidates.”

Under President Barack Obama, the federal government has run up a $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009 and a national debt of $12.9 trillion. That according to Santelli is how the federal fiscal situation has gotten to this point because all these policy measures are viewed as short-term, but in the aggregate wind prolonging the inevitable.

“[T]he fact is that we have an amount of debt – Mr. Ip is much less worried about the near-term debt, but that logic is how we got here. We've been kicking the can down the road too long. At some point we really need to address the problem. A deficit commission? We don't need a deficit commission. We need a spending commission. Spending commission.”

The president's deficit reduction commission is scheduled to report on Dec. 1 after the midterm elections and during the lame-duck Congressional session.