Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, attacked the International Monetary Fund and European authorities on Wednesday for imposing what he called excessive austerity measures on Greece in negotiations over the country’s debt crisis.
“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 said in an exclusive statement to 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.”
Sanders, who is active on the US presidential campaign trail and just yesterday, attracted more than 10,000 people at a campaign rally in Wisconsin, called the loans-for-austerity policies that the IMF and eurozone nations have imposed on Greece an “abysmal failure,” and demanded that the United States and other world powers grant Greece new debt-repayment terms that would allow its economy to recover from the damage it has sustained since 2008.
“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.
Sanders appeared to single out the IMF, the creditor over which the United States has the most direct influence. The U.S. controls more votes in IMF decisions than any other nation.
“If Greece’s economy is going to succeed, these austerity policies must end,” Sanders said. “The IMF must give the Greek government the flexibility and time that it needs to grow its economy in a fair way.”
Sanders has for months been urging the United States to use its influence to secure better terms for Greece. In February, when negotiations between Greece and its so-called troika of creditors — the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, representing the eurozone nations — had reached a standstill, Sanders asked the Federal Reserve to leverage its financial support for the ECB during the 2008 crisis to get the central bank to ease up on Greece.