Sanders: If 'Cruel' Austerity Forced on Greece, the Nazis Will Rise

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) warned today that austerity measures in Greece could lead to a Hitler-style rise of Nazis in Europe.

Greek lawmakers approved a bailout plan today despite voters rejecting similar measures last week, sparking violent protests in Athens. They’ll have to institute tax reform, pension overhaul and spending cuts to qualify for some $96 billion in bailout aid.

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Sanders called the situation “a tragedy of enormous proportions.”

“In the last five years, as a result of austerity measures, the Greek economy has contracted by 25 percent. Today, unemployment is 26 percent, youth unemployment is near 60 percent and 30 percent of the people in Greece are living in poverty,” he said in a statement.

“Tragically, Germany and other European creditors are trying to squeeze blood out of a stone. Instead of providing an agreement with Greece that allows its economy to grow and create jobs, generate more tax revenue and eventually pay back their debt, Greek creditors have insisted upon even greater austerity: cutting jobs, making deeper pension cuts, increasing regressive taxation and privatizing important parts of the Greek economy.”

The Democratic presidential candidate and self-described socialist added that “of all countries on earth, Germany, whose economy was destroyed as a result of the Treaty of Versailles and the harsh measures associated with it, should understand that a nation in deep depression should not be squeezed even more.”

A poll in Germany found that 55 percent of citizens there agree with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s tough austerity stance in Eurozone negotiations with Greece. A third wanted Merkel to be even tougher on the embattled country.

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Sanders said the austerity measures proposed for Greece “are not only cruel and counterproductive, they are terrible politics.”

“If the democratically elected Greek government is not allowed to represent its people, who overwhelmingly rejected austerity, then Greece’s Nazi party, the Golden Dawn, would be allowed to gain even greater  influence,” he said. “We must not recreate the conditions that brought Hitler to power in 1932. I urge the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF to negotiate a settlement that improves life for the people of Greece and does not drive them deeper into depression and misery.”

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