Newsweek's Clift: U.S. Won't Face Greek Debt Tragedy 'Because We Can Print Money'

We all probably knew the sentiment of the American left for just not getting the entire Tea Party movement concept, but this statement ought to cement that notion.

On the July 18 broadcast of "The McLaughlin Group," host John McLaughlin asked his panelists what the long-term implications of national debt could be for the United States.

"Is America in danger of the current debt crisis becoming a sovereign debt crisis as Mort [Zuckerman] mentioned, like the one that is now hitting Greece, yes or no?" McLaughlin asked.

MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan warned it was more "imminent" than many people have forecast. He cited British historian and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, who has declared the country to be on the brink of a Greek-like collapse.

"Not only yes, but it's a lot sooner than the 10 years Mort is talking about," Buchanan said. "Niall Ferguson is talking about two years. It could be imminent. The Greek thing hit - bam."

However, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift - a proponent of many of the spending policies the Obama administration has put in place, said this wasn't a danger. Why? The ability of the government to monetize debt.

"No - because we can print money and Greece can't," Clift declared. "And the Bush tax cuts are for the people at the upper-end of the income scale - not the middle class."

But U.S. News & World Report editor and real-estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman didn't look at the fiscal implications. Instead, he alluded to the political implications.

"There's one thing that's going on in this country that is close to your point," Zuckerman said. "A lot of people have found they have mortgages that exceed the value of their homes, and credit card lines that they can't pay. They suddenly realize that debt is really important. It hasn't been an issue for a long time. Now everybody knows it is a serious issue. And it is going to be an issue that will have much more political traction, in fact because everybody knows. We are way over."

Buchanan noted the Tea Party phenomenon, which seems to be driven by the concern of government spending.

"It's what's driving the Tea Parties - deficits," Buchanan said.

But McLaughlin's conclusion wasn't as doom-and-gloom as Buchanan's, but unlike Clift he didn't dismiss the significance.

"The answer is not Greece, but very serious," McLaughlin said.