Monday, July 18, 2011

Clinton Praises Greek Austerity Plan, but Not for USA

Athens, Greece, Jul 17, 2011. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday the United States "strongly supports" the austerity measures that Greece has taken to try to avert potential financial disaster.

"We stand by the people and government of Greece as you put your country back on a path to economic stability and prosperity," Clinton said during a visit to the country. 

Clinton spoke to reporters along with Stavros Lambrinidis, who serves as minister of foreign affairs under Prime Minister George Papandreou.

"Americans know these are difficult days," Clinton said. "The United States strongly supports the Papandreou government's determination to make the necessary reforms, to put Greece back on sound financial footing, and to make Greece more competitive economically."

At the end of June, the Greek parliament voted to implement another round of austerity measures in hopes of avoiding defaulting on the government's debt.

Greeks rioting over austerity plan
The decision came amid a new round of large-scale protests in the streets, with riot police firing tear gas.

Demonstrators rejected measures including reductions in the pay of public workers and social security funding and an increase in the attrition of public jobs.

Last year an austerity package included pension cuts, higher taxes, and a hike in retirement age to 65 from as low as 61.

Many of the protesters were young people who have been particularly hard-hit by high unemployment and blame rich tax-dodgers for the nation's fiscal woes.

Clinton said the measures the government took "were vital first steps. We know these were not easy decisions. They were acts of leadership. And those acts of leadership will help to build a better economic future."

She said that "while the payoff for these sacrifices may not come quickly, it will come. We know that."

"And we also know," Clinton added, "that the price of inaction would have been far higher now and far into the future." 

However, Secretary Clinton doesn't see any need for an austerity budget here in the USA.

Recently Mrs. Clinton said that foreign affairs budget cuts being proposed by Republican members of Congress would be "devastating" to U.S. national security interests. 

"We need to just follow President Obama's Recovery Plan and borrow as much as we can and spend it as quickly as possible. This will somehow create a lot of jobs. At least that's what the president thinks."

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