Bernie Sanders Applauds Greece for Voting "No" to More Austerity
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is claiming solidarity with the people of Greece for voting against harsh austerity measures on Sunday in a gripping referendum that captivated the world.
"I applaud the people of Greece for saying 'no' to more austerity for the the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly," Sanders said in a statement.
Greece stands on the brink as its banks teeter toward collapse and the government struggles to establish a tolerable bailout deal with international creditors, hoping to prevent the possibility of the troubled nation exiting the eurozone. Abandoning the euro would be an unprecedented act that could have enormous economic consequences throughout the region and the world.
Over the weekend, the country voted against bailout terms that would have imposed yet another round of stringent cuts to government spending and services that have up until this point proven ruinous to the economy.
In his statement, Sanders expressed sympathy for Greece and praised its rejection of punitive austerity policies.
"In a world of massive wealth and income inequality, Europe must support Greece's efforts to build an economy which creates more jobs and income, not more unemployment and suffering," Sanders said.
Bernie has no love for the Troika: In the past, Sanders has denounced international creditors for exploiting Greece, which has been locked in an economic tailspin since the economic crisis of 2008.
"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," Sanders told the Huffington Post. "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."
The Huffington Post reports that during their interview with Sanders, the senator focused on the International Monetary Fund's responsibility in the matter. "The IMF must give the Greek government the flexibility and time that it needs to grow its economy in a fair way," he said. The United States commands more influence over the IMF than it does over the other major creditors, the European Central Bank and the European Commission.
The eurozone debt crisis is at the moment likely too fast-moving and abstract for the average American to be emotionally invested in. But Sanders stands out for his brazen dismissal of the narrative that debtors are worthy of contempt and punishment. It's hard to imagine any candidate with big ties to Wall Street daring to do the same.