THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; BETH HIRSHHORN, METLIFE TAPED: FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 24-25, 2010
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The American Dream.
BEN BERNANKE (Federal Reserve Board chairman): (From videotape.) The economic expansion that began in the middle of last year is proceeding at a moderate pace, supported by stimulative monetary and fiscal policies. We will continue to carefully assess ongoing financial and economic developments.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: America is recession-weary, now in its third year since the meltdown, and more bad news this week.
Item: Jobs vanish. Employment last month dropped 301,000 workers. Item: Banks busted. Ninety-six banks have shut down so far this year, on track for the highest number in 18 years.
Item: Markets wobble. The Dow fell 6.6 percent this year. The S&P has dropped 5.0 percent.
Item: Confidence plunges in June from 62.7 to 52.9 on the Conference Board index, 10 points in one month.
Item: Retail sales, manufacturing, automaking all down.
Little wonder that the fourth annual MetLife Study of the American Dream shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the U.S. economy will be the same or worse than last year is 67 percent, two out of three people, which is consistent with the position taken by the Federal Reserve Board chairman, Ben Bernanke, in his testimony to Congress this week.
MR. BERNANKE: (From videotape.) Even as the Federal Reserve continues prudent planning, we also recognize that the economic outlook remains unusually uncertain.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Despite the hardships, optimism lives on. Seventy percent of Americans still believe they will someday live the American dream.
Question: Clearly Americans are resilient. We bounce back. What explains that resilience in America? Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John, dreams have always died hard in America. And the reason they die hard is because this country has been such a magnificent success for so many hundreds of millions of people for so many centuries. It really has. And Americans are a resilient people. They're an innovative people. They're a hard- working people.
But the problem I think we've got now, John, is that we're no longer the producers we once were. We're consumers. We used to be a family-centered, a child-centered society. We're now a self-centered society. Consumerism takes up 70 percent of everything we produce. We don't save like other countries did.
It is the character of the nation and the character of the regime, if you will, the government, which is we are very much a welfare, big-government state that we were not when you and I were growing up. So I think there are a lot of changes, and not all of them are for the good.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why aren't you mentioning that the immigrant population came here because this was the land of opportunity?
MR. BUCHANAN: It was a land of opportunity -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that spread in our DNA.
MR. BUCHANAN: But look, but the immigrant population today, they come, John, and the vast majority of them wind up beneficiaries of government, who pay less in taxes than they consume in benefits. And that's a dramatic change from the generation of 1890 to 1920.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, do you think we still have --
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a hard-work ethic, and hard work brings results?
MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm going to quibble with several of these statistics. First of all, the stock market has recovered half of what it lost when the real collapse happened. The car manufacturers are doing pretty well, and GM is going gangbusters in China. And I wish I had the statistics at my fingertips to refute what you just said about immigrants, because they still are the lifeblood of this country --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: -- and they are hard-working --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was my point, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: -- and they feed into the American dream. Americans are optimistic by nature, and other people want to come here. They used to think the streets were paved with gold. They probably don't think that anymore. But we have an education system that is pretty accessible to everyone, and education is the ticket up here. So we have a mobility between the classes that you don't have in a lot of parts of the country.
The one part of the American dream that is fraying is that part about your children are going to do better than you do. And I think that's not the case. And so some of those values are changing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The assumption is that hard work and personal effort are rewarded in this society.
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that still true today?
MS. CROWLEY: I think that is still true, that if you take big risks, there's always the chance for a big reward or a big blowup, big failure. But that is part of the fabric that has driven American success and prosperity over so many decades and so many centuries. I think when you ask about what is unique about America, I think that still holds true. If you go all the way back to the founding of the republic, you look at this ragtag bunch of country farmers and country lawyers who pulled themselves together and defeated the world's greatest army, the British. Ever since that time, John, we have had this incredible pioneering spirit, whether it's the westward movement or whether it's going off into space.
I think now we've had a temporary pause. But like all temporary pauses that we have had throughout our history, this too shall pass. And I think the question of optimism is a good one, because I know all previous generations have felt optimistic, even in times of shorter recessions than the one we're experiencing now. Positivity will come back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beth Hirshhorn, welcome. Do you think that the performance of political leaders affects the attitude towards reward, and reward is given for good work? Does it affect the American dream whether or not we have good leaders?
MS. HIRSHHORN: The American people feel that the playing field is not as level as it once was, that the hard work is not all that it takes. It takes some -- a little bit more help than that. And they don't feel advantaged by their leaders right now. They feel disadvantaged by their leaders.
But to your point about why is the dream still alive and kicking with all of this terrible news, one thing that we didn't bring up is really that the dream has become as much about the journey as it is about the destination, meaning that the dream is our guidepost. The dream is something that keeps us from -- you know, keeps us getting out of bed in the morning. So it's also just as much about the journey as it is about where we're trying to land.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me talk about the leaders. There's no doubt that leaders do make a difference. Let's take Herbert Hoover versus FDR; whether you agree with FDR or not, enormous confidence, people said, and hope. Take Jimmy Carter and then Ronald Reagan for eight years, the dramatic change in attitudes and sentiments and feeling, even though both FDR and Reagan started off with the country really in a slough of despond.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's another reason why Reagan was so popular -- because he had tax breaks. And those tax breaks yielded an economy that grew by 9.8 percent --
MS. CROWLEY: Right. The philosophy -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- while he was in office, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, sure, it did. I mean, his ideas worked.
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: But he inspired the country --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he psyched people into it or he --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in a manner of speaking, he bought their confidence?
MR. BUCHANAN: You know, it was morning in America after three and a half years of Ronald Reagan before the great recovery took hold.
MS. CROWLEY: Well, and it -- this gets to Beth's point about whether or not people perceive their government and their leadership as helping them or not. And with the current administration and Congress, all of this massive government intervention, Americans are saying, "Wait a minute. We want our free market back. Get out of our way" --
MS. CLIFT: This is going to be another --
MS. CROWLEY: -- "so we can prosper."
MS. CLIFT: -- crowning of President Reagan --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: -- as the leader we want to bring back from the '80s --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As opposed to Barack Obama.
MS. CROWLEY: Yes, please. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Why don't you join in once, Eleanor? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you warning us now?
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this an admonition?
MS. CLIFT: No. But if we're going to talk about President Reagan, let's remember, in his first year he was at 42 percent popularity. He had unemployment of 10.8 percent. And he managed to come out of that. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: It is way too early --
MS. CROWLEY: It's called tax cuts.
MS. CLIFT: -- to be dancing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MS. CLIFT: -- on the grave of President Obama.
MS. CROWLEY: It's called tax cuts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.
Exit question. The MetLife study -- and, by the way, congratulations on it, Beth.
MS. HIRSHHORN: Thank you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The study shows that average Americans are still optimistic about being able to achieve the American dream in their lifetime. The final question: Is that optimism well placed or is it misplaced?
MR. BUCHANAN: I -- I mean, I have to agree -- I have to agree with Eleanor. I think, for the coming generations, it's going to be -- I mean, our generation worked very, very hard and got a great deal of success. Coming generations, I don't know if they're going to do as well because of a lot of inherent problems -- the death of manufacturing in America, the size of government, the size of regulation, litigious society, welfare state. I don't know whether --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, that's squeezing out the basic core of capitalism.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it is -- the government sector is squeezing out the private sector.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: You can go down all the negative ledger and phrase it like Pat did, or you can look at the boundless opportunities now that we have this world of the Internet. You can look at a new economy that is going to have to come. That green economy is going to have to be produced. And you look at more and more opportunities for education in this country.
And I think the millennials, who are going to be the biggest generation in history once they come online, they say, "Great, I'm going to have three careers in my lifetime. I don't have to depend on one employer and I'm going to get a gold watch after 20 years." They look at all these things -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: -- as opportunity. And I think that is in the American spirit and the American dream.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica Crowley.
MS. CROWLEY: One of the -- (laughs) -- one of the great things about America, John McLaughlin, is that we're self-correcting.
So we have had hard-left progressive presidents and administrations before and it produces folks like Ronald Reagan, Pat Buchanan. And the country does correct. And that's why I think the optimism is well placed.
MS. CLIFT: Jimmy Carter --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's well placed, Beth?
MS. CLIFT: -- if he's hearing this, it's the first time he will have been called hard left.
MS. CROWLEY: You can't even stand to let the other side speak. It's unbelievable. (Laughs.)
MS. HIRSHHORN: I think it's well placed, and I will amplify what Monica was saying about self-correcting on an individual level. The reason why it's well placed is because people believe in the dream, because they believe in their own abilities, attitude and work ethic. And that's healthy. That's heartiness. But they also are saying -- and I haven't seen this too often -- that they now accept financial responsibility as being part of what's required to achieve the dream.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is it is well placed because we have a constitutional system of limited government.
Issue Two: The Impossible Dream?
MAN: (From videotape.) I'm feeling it, I mean, when I shop for food, when I pay my bills, like rent, cable.
WOMAN: (From videotape.) I got a 12.5 percent reduction on my salary, and it's affected me a lot. I bought a brand new car last year and barely can make the payments on it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The American dream was once defined in terms of material possessions -- their price, their number. The dream's core elements used to be net worth, asset accumulation, buying power, and, of course, brand -- Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Rolls Royce, gems by Harry Winston, East Hampton second home. Those were the marks of success, the mantra being "He who dies with the most bling wins." Not anymore. During this GM -- great meltdown -- the MetLife survey says that the American dream has morphed before our very eyes. In the new dreamscape, conspicuous consumption is kaput. Personal relationships trump bling -- friends, family, marriage, children. Bling is out. People are in.
Seventy-seven percent, almost four out of five people in this country, say that quality of life is defined by improved relationships. And 87 percent, almost nine out of 10, say they've re- evaluated priorities to put more emphasis on personal relationships. Fifty-eight percent, almost three out of five, define the American dream as having a family and having children.
Question: What do Americans see as the main ingredient of the American dream? Beth Hirshhorn.
MS. HIRSHHORN: They still see financial security still trumping family, although now more out of necessity because they're just trying to hang on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They want a safety net.
MS. HIRSHHORN: They do.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- the idea -- look, where I do disagree -- I agree with the end of your set-up there. I disagree that the whole idea of the American dream is about who's going to make a lot of money and who's going to have a little yacht or a home in East Hampton and stuff like that. It always was a sense of community, a sense of family, a sense of group, friends and things like that, and enough in life really to get along without all this excess stuff.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --
MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, Harry Winston jewels. I don't know anybody I ever heard of -- (laughs) -- except a couple of people in New York was even interested in that junk.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, that was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's --
MS. CROWLEY: It's not junk, Pat. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: That was pitched to the ultra-rich, basically.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Maybe a Louis Vuitton knockoff -- MR. BUCHANAN: Where's Mort Zuckerman when we need him? (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: -- is more the average person's style.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we're talking about degrees of success.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Well, and I think that always has been an element in American life. It used to be known as keeping up --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you concede that?
MS. CLIFT: Well, keeping up with the Joneses is what it was called. And a lot of people measured their success by cars, the cars and the house, the house in the suburbs. But I do think that as the economy contracts, people look for satisfaction and contentment closer to home. And you see -- I mean, all the Internet dating sites are very popular. I think people are looking for relationships. Facebook is reaching out to all these kind of fake friends, but friends nonetheless.
MS. CROWLEY: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we're becoming Italians, meaning friends and family, but also economic stagnation and --
MS. CROWLEY: And food and wine and great cheese? Maybe. I hope so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dulce far niente -- sweet do-nothingness.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: Right. (Laughs.) Well, look, I mean, I certainly think that that is part of the trend that we're seeing coming out of this great recession. People are going back to what really matters, which is family relationships, good friend relationships, because so many other things have fallen away. And everything that we once thought we knew for sure -- upward mobility; the job was always going to be there; the house, we'd always be able to meet that mortgage payment -- that is no longer true. So people are going back to the fundamentals.
But I don't think that that takes away from the essential threads in the American fabric, which is that all of those things you mentioned, most Americans probably don't have them but they aspire to have them at some point. It's aspirational. And that's not going away.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beth, your study says that 67 percent of Americans -- that's more than a consensus -- believe that the recession is going to last for three years before we recover. Do you think that's a further indication that we will turn more to families and friends because the country is faced with that as the alternative to high-style bling?
MS. HIRSHHORN: I think people are going to continue talking about turning to friends and family and building relationships, but more so out of necessity than just a deep-seated shift in beliefs. I mean, this relationship-building -- the price is right, first of all. And secondly, you know, they need support at this time. So it's not that people don't care about keeping up with the Joneses anymore.
They've just sort of tempered that a little bit. We may see more of that coming back.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, in a natural --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, in a natural disaster, people tend to come together a lot more. You know, all this individualism goes out the window.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: And in a sense, this financial disaster is the same way. But I will say this, John. There's a big debate whether the economy -- we're going to have a second dip. And frankly, it does not look good. People are talking about this unemployment staying at least 7 percent up until 2015, which I think would be a real pall on the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: The Demand Deficit.
WOMAN: (From videotape.) It's been hard. Right now I'm unemployed.
MAN: (From videotape.) Jobs are a little scarce -- not a little. They're a lot scarce.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oddly, the more Americans spend and the less they save makes the economy better. Almost three-quarters of our GDP, 70 percent, comes from consumer spending. The American consumer is the engine of global trade. From Beijing to London to Buenos Aires to Canberra, the wheels of international commerce are turned by the huge buying engine of Americans.
The nations that export to the U.S., notably China and Australia, depend on Americans first and foremost. The goods that Asia now produces and Americans demand help keep the wheels of the world's economy whirring.
But Americans are changing their habits. Ninety-three percent of Americans now say they plan to save. Seventy-five percent say they spend less now than last year. Seventy-seven percent save now. They are saving, but the result is a consumption deficit; that is, a deficit of private-sector demand. That deficit of demand kills a strong recovery, some say. Remember the fuel of the new American dream. Saving is in. Consumption is out. And that's the problem, some say.
Question: Asians are the world's biggest savers. Are Americans going to replace Asians as the world's biggest savers? Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: Not quite, John, not quite. I think, out of necessity, a lot of Americans are saving now because the job situation is still so shaky. Either they're unemployed or perhaps their job is on the line. And so they're putting a lot of money into a nest egg, or as much as they can, week to week, month to month, as a bulwark against future upset in the economy.
And in many ways, it's sort of like the Great Depression generation. That generation, my grandparents' generation, saved everything. They saved water bottles, because they were all afraid that it was going to happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You realize --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CROWLEY: I think you're seeing some of that. But I think, when the economy comes back, that consumption will come back.
MR. BUCHANAN: Monica --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You realize the Chinese are saving about 10 percent of their income?
MR. BUCHANAN: More -- 35 to 55 percent.
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John can remember the Great Depression and tell you how they were saving those water bottles. Right, John? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I remember --
MS. CLIFT: I think Pat remembers that too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, which was kind of quasi-socialism; still around today.
MR. BUCHANAN: I bet you were a CCC boy also.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that helped sustain the economy. MR. BUCHANAN: But the Americans save probably now -- it used to be zero or minus one. We probably save 5 percent. The Chinese are up to 35 to 50 percent. Of course, it's mandatory savings. And now they're starting to spend more. You're never going to get like the Asians.
MS. CLIFT: The Chinese are not presented with the consumer smorgasbord that we have in this country.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: But they will. And as they become a more modern society, they're going to eventually overtake us in consuming simply by their sheer numbers. And I wouldn't give up on Americans as spenders either. They're not spending as much now simply because they're scared. But that's going to change.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what's the answer to the paradox? We save, but --
MS. CLIFT: There is no answer to the paradox. That's why it's a paradox.
MS. CROWLEY: That's why it's a paradox.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Saving defeats demand, and demand -- you've got to have consumer buying before you have an appreciable increase in the economy.
MS. CLIFT: You have to build a society that also makes things. And this falls into what Pat --
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, you've got to start producing again, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We produce. And the export volume is enormous.
MR. BUCHANAN: It is not. We have a trade deficit --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Chinese --
MR. BUCHANAN: The trade deficit is back up to $500 billion a year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We produce iPods and every variation of an iPod, cell phones, and they're all --
MR. BUCHANAN: Who do you think -- the biggest export of China to the United States is computers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you --
MS. HIRSHHORN: You know, this savings you're talking about, John, this is a little different than what the Asian savings plan is about. This is savings for an emergency fund, to make it to, you know, not missing -- not falling into disaster if you miss one paycheck. I don't even know if I would really characterize it as saving. It's just more not spending.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly right.
MS. CLIFT: It's an emergency rainy-day fund.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a rainy-day fund.
MS. HIRSHHORN: It's the first tier of the safety net that people are desperately trying to build.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we're not in agreement that there is a demand deficit.
MS. CROWLEY: Well, right now --
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but --
MS. CROWLEY: -- there is, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right now there is.
MS. CROWLEY: Right now there is. And that is one of the big reasons why --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the government --
MS. CROWLEY: -- the economy is faltering, because 70 percent of this economy is driven by consumerism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember how the government has been trying to fill the hole? Cash for Clunkers, that type of program.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: Right; the home buyers' tax credit.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that's the role of the government?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the government can fulfill the obligation --
MS. CROWLEY: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: If the government's going to do things, those things -- if it's going to do something, Cash for Clunkers and cash for houses are good programs if the government's going to do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Talkin' About My Generation. POOJA JAITLY (job seeker): (From videotape.) My friends and I are all in a place where everything is unknown, especially those of us that don't have jobs yet or aren't going to school. It's scary. Am I underqualified? Am I overqualified? I don't know what I'm doing wrong. When I go to interviews, there are people there that are 20, 30 years older than me.
JACKIE BUNNER (job seeker): (From videotape.) People aren't leaving their jobs, you know, with the economy and everything, so there's not positions opening up for us.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The economic crisis affects us all. It doesn't affect us all equally, though. Its impact is as different as the generations themselves. Take the baby boomers -- the best-educated, hardest-working and most affluent generation in American history. Well, 17 percent of boomers say they are unemployed and looking for work. Barely one in three says they have achieved the American dream.
The meltdown liquidated their home values, 401Ks, stock portfolios. Optimism that they'll achieve the dream dropped 6 percent between '09 and '10. The boomers are swelling the ranks of the tea party. Polling data on tea-party supporters is nearly identical to polling data on baby boomers.
Question: Are the boomers reliving their youth by once again taking their protests to the streets, Beth?
MS. HIRSHHORN: No, they're not. There's 80 million boomers, so -- and there are very few people on the street now. So the boomers are right now -- it doesn't mean they're happy. They're right now more stressed than they've ever been. Half of them are losing sleep over concerns about paying bills and making ends meet. But we don't see them taking to the streets in large numbers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see any correspondence between the tea party and the boomers?
MS. HIRSHHORN: I think the tea party -- you know, it's a little younger age, just right under there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about characteristics, like anti- authoritarian, anti-government, anti-politician?
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. HIRSHHORN: That anti-authoritarianism was a ways back for the boomers. It's not of today.
MR. BUCHANAN: You've got to realize, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't the boomers protest against -- MR. BUCHANAN: -- the baby-boom generation is gigantic. It's the biggest of all. It was not only in the mud at Woodstock. It was in the mud at Khe Sanh. Also, when they went out and voted, they went out and voted, excuse me, for Ronald Reagan, even though there were a lot of radicals in that generation in the '60s. So that's a changing generation. It's more mature now. And it's the most successful. They've got tough times. But a lot -- John, a lot of the tea parties are silent generation, 65 and older.
MS. CLIFT: It's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, hold on for one minute. I want to break down the generations.
MS. CLIFT: I just want to say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, generation breakdown. The nomenclature: Greatest Generation, born between 1901 and 1924 -- age today, 86 to 109; Silent Generation -- I'm giving only ages -- 65 to 85; Baby Boomers, 46 to 64; Generation X, age 29 to 45; Generation Y, 16 to 28; Generation Z, zero to 15.
Of all of these generations, which one fears it is losing ground most in achieving the American dream?
MS. CLIFT: I just want to finish what I tried to say earlier, and that is that the baby boomers gave us the civil-rights revolution --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: -- the feminist revolution and the antiwar movement.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: So they've put their name on the map.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They gave us gay-rights protests too.
MS. CLIFT: That -- the gay-rights protests are actually a later generation. The later generations don't distinguish --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They gave us civil-rights protests.
MS. CLIFT: They're not biased against gay people in the least.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The gay protests go back further than --
MS. CROWLEY: To answer your question, though, I think the baby boomers are the generation that fears that they have the most to lose in this crisis, because older Americans, the greatest generation, silent generation, frankly, they don't have that much time left, so they've saved and they -- MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: I mean, I hate to sound crude about it, but really, they've already settled in their life. The baby-boomer generation still is looking forward to retirement.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What --
MR. BUCHANAN: I disagree.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.
MS. CROWLEY: And their retirement savings is gone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is unanalogous between the baby boomers and the tea party? What does not match?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, the tea party, though, stretches across all demographics, John. It's not just limited to the baby boomers. What you're saying is the rejection of big government, the rejection --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: But the baby boomers were out in the streets with a far-left liberal mindset back in the 1960s.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Aside from the age differential --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and the stratum, aren't the fundamentals exactly the same? The tea party and the boomers.
MS. CLIFT: No, I don't think --
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the boomers are in the tea party, John. But Generation Y, I think, is more conservative. The baby boomers are an enormous success, and they've got some problems, but Generation Y, they are being dropped out of their jobs. They can't be retrained. They've got young people coming up.
MS. CROWLEY: But they have time to regroup, Pat. They have time to regroup, where the baby boomers don't.
MR. BUCHANAN: But here's the thing. I think they're caught in the middle of this thing. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but they've got --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think they're caught in the middle between the young people and the economy sinking.
MS. CLIFT: But they've got more college degrees and advanced degrees than anyone else. They've got a great deal of potential. And they're living longer. I think they'll make up for this lost time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which generation --
MS. CLIFT: I'm on the optimistic side.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction. The economy is headed for a double-dip recession.
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm afraid so.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MS. CROWLEY: No, but very stagnant growth.
MS. HIRSHHORN: No, as long as we can avert deflation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, but stagnant growth.
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