Scott Reynolds Nelson, History Professor: 'We Are A Nation Of Deadbeats' (VIDEO)

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HuffPost Live
HuffPost Live

President Barack Obama insisted on Monday that the United States "is not a deadbeat nation." But one history professor says not so fast.

Scott Reynolds Nelson, a prize-winning author and history professor at the College of William and Mary, told HuffPost Live Tuesday that the president is right: the federal government does pay its debts. But, he said, we do have a problem at the state, county and municipal levels, all which are notorious for borrowing incredible amounts of money and then not paying it back.

"All the financial panics in American history, with one exception, have been cases where the U.S. borrowers, individual or at the state level or municipal level, have not paid their debts, really kind of resting on the federal government's good name," Nelson said. "So we may not be a deadbeat nation, but we are a nation of deadbeats."

Nelson, who explains his theory further in his book "A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters,"told HuffPost Live's James Poulos that the United States' poor record of paying back its debts dates all the way back to 1789.

Watch the Full Segment on HuffPost Live.