TAPPER: And, Shelby, you know, one of the things that I thought was interesting about these -- about these mobs protesting and rioting about austerity cuts in -- in -- tax increases and service cuts, is that it's really not that difficult to imagine the United States in a similar position and people getting angry about it, not just government workers, but conservative activists, liberal activists, everyone getting angry about it, because we, too, want to have our cake and -- and eat it, too.
STEELE: There's always this impulse in government to do the good, to do something that -- and make sure everybody, every human being alive in the -- in your country has health insurance and so forth. And it's fine and -- fine to do the good, but the only way to do it is to also grant people -- expand the idea of entitlement and make people actually feel, as a part of their identity, that they are owed something.
And then as -- as time goes on and you -- as George says, you -- you -- they call this a debt crisis. It's really an overspending crisis, where you're -- you're just constantly finding -- trying to do good things, expanding entitlement. You get to a place where it starts to collapse. California, my state, is in dire straits right now for this. And we have some of the similar people rioting, students complaining about the UC system cuts and so forth.
There's no money. There's just no money. So it's not as though somebody is doing something evil or oppressive. The state just has no money.
TAPPER: John, I want to put up a graphic here. It shows public debt as a percentage of the gross domestic product, in Greece, it's 113.4 percent. In the United States, 52.9 percent. That's still a lot, and that's only public debt. That's not including some of the shenanigans that our government -- some of the chicanery and shell game that we have going on with the Social Security trust fund and such.
How -- how important is it for the American people to pay attention to what's going on in Greece because we're going to be facing that same problem some day soon?
PODESTA: Well, I think there are two issues, and they're related. One is the one that George raised, which is Greece is linked into a system that could in the very near term affect our growth. And the most important we need to do right now is to continue the job numbers that came out on Friday, the pace of expansion of the U.S. economy. That's the most important factor that's going to get our deficits down and get our debt under control.
But over the long term, we -- there's a structural deficit. When I -- when you put that chart up on the board, 52 percent, it reminded me that when I left the White House, it was 32 percent, 33 percent, I think.
I think that there was a lot of structural deficit built in, in the 1980s. The absence of regulation -- we talked about the expansion of government, the absence of government, the absence of regulation in the financial sector led to a great collapse and -- and a response to create demand in the economy, to put people back to work.