February 10, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders has written a letter to Janet Yellen, urging her to remind the European Central Bank of their obligation to help Greece recover. He also makes another very good point: If the U.S. can't persuade the Troika to cooperate in lifting austerity measures in Greece, it is quite possible that we will see the rise of the second-place neo-Nazi party:

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vermont): The party that came in third place in the recent elections is a Nazi party, and if the new government is unable to implement the anti-austerity policies that it campaigned on, it is going to make a sham of Greek democracy, and you're going to have a Nazi party there, saying to the people Democracy doesn't matter, certain powers...

In 2008, during the world financial crisis, did you know the Fed, in short term loans, made trillions of dollars available to the ECB -- the European Central Bank. The Fed could have said hey guys you're on your own, but the Fed correctly did not. It understood the significance of what a worldwide financial collapse would be about.

I think it is absolutely imperative that the ECB, the Troika in Europe, work with the Greek government, not in an austerity program which punishes people who are already suffering. But a pro-growth policy which enables them to create jobs, expand their economy, and pay off their debts...

I want [Federal Reserve Chair Janet] Yellen to make the European Central Bank aware that the Fed has provided significant, and continues to provide significant support to them. That President Obama was very strong saying last week that when a country is in the midst of a Depression like Greece, there is a limit to how far you can squeeze them. And I hope that she would make the ECB aware of that...

When they were in need during the Great Financial Crisis, the Fed was there for them. This for me is not just an economic issue. If you look at what happened in Germany after world war one, the allies imposed real austerity through the Versailles Treaty. The various Democratic governments that followed in the Weimar Republic were unable to deal with the horrendous economic conditions in Germany. Hitler came to power. I trust no one wants to see a Nazi Party to come to power in Greece...

What happens in Greece could be a prelude to what will happen in Italy and Spain. There is massive opposition to austerity programs being imposed all over Europe. To be honest I'm not a fan of his...

You've got a new government which won a new election on a new program, and to deny them the ability to implement the policies that people voted for is, I think an economic mistake, and even more importantly, a political mistake.

But it's also that this is where the fight over worldwide austerity is centered. The banks have cut social services, induced unemployment, and smashed the unions. As progressives, we should not only be watching closely, we should face our voices.

If Greece stands up to austerity, Italy and Spain will be next. Then we will have the political clout for a deal to write off global debt. This is really, really important.

Republicans love to bludgeon us with Greece: "If we don't cut Social Security and Medicare, we'll become Greece." Bullshit. And if Greece gets back on its feet by rejecting these policies, there goes that brain-dead argument.

Stay tuned.

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