As the whole world waits to see what will become of Greece and the entire European Union as the small nation deals with a huge debt crisis, the people of Greece have one champion in the U.S. Congress — Bernie Sanders. The independent Senator from Vermont and candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016 has put the blame for the Greek debt crisis squarely on the country’s creditors including the IMF.
He told the Huffington Post, “It is unacceptable that the International Monetary Fund and European policymakers have refused to work with the Greek government on a sensible plan to improve its economy and pay back its debt. At a time of grotesque wealth inequality, the pensions of the people in Greece should not be cut even further to pay back some of the largest banks and wealthiest financiers in the world.”
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“Instead of trying to force the Greek government and its people into even more economic pain and suffering, international leaders throughout the world, including the United States, should enable Greece to enact pro-growth policies that improve the lives of all of its people, not just the wealthy few, ” Sanders said.
This fits in well with the Senator’s populist positions, but Sanders’ words betray a lack of understanding of the underlying causes of the crisis. The major causes of the Greek debt crisis are runaway government spending with institutionalized tax evasion nationwide. Most importantly, the Greek government deliberately violated regulations of the Euro zone which limit the national debt any member state can have. Since it could no longer issue bonds without revealing its debt problem to the Euro zone members, Greek officials instead choose to borrow money by using just about anything it had in the country as collateral.
The IMF did not get involved until after Greece got into trouble because of the worldwide Great Recession which began in 2008 and led to Greece failing to meet its debt payments.
Meanwhile, Sanders keeps packing them in at his speaking events. 10, 231 people showed up to hear his speech at Madison Wisconsin’s Alliant Energy Center.
But should Hilary Clinton be afraid? Probably not. Sanders personal popularity among a devoted group seems more about his having a cult following and will not necessarily translate into more votes at the polls come the primary season in 2016.