Bernie Sanders Backs Greek Rejection Of Austerity Measures

DES MOINES, IA - JUNE 12:  Democratic Presidential Nominee Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks at a campaign event at Drake
DES MOINES, IA - JUNE 12: Democratic Presidential Nominee Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks at a campaign event at Drake University on June 12, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Sanders, an advocate of porviding free college education to all Americans, was greeted by a standing-room-only crowd at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voiced his support for Greece’s decision to reject a bailout deal that would have come with more austerity measures for the country.

“I applaud the people of Greece for saying ‘no’ to more austerity for the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly,” Sanders said in a statement Sunday. “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.”

In a nationwide referendum Sunday, more than 60 percent of Greek voters rejected the deal, which was proposed by the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund after Greece missed a deadline to pay 1.6 billion euros to the IMF. While the vote leaves Greece’s financial stability and future in the eurozone uncertain, the White House released a statement Monday calling for European leaders and Greece to reach a deal that keeps the country using the euro.

In February, President Barack Obama criticized austerity measures already in place in Greece in exchange for loans, which have taken a huge toll on the country's economy.

"You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression,” Obama said. “At some point, there has to be a growth strategy in order for them to pay off their debts to eliminate some of their deficits."

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Sanders, a self-described socialist who has drawn large crowds on the campaign trail and closed some of the large gap between himself and front-runner Hillary Clinton in the polls, is the only the 2016 candidate to take a position on Greece’s decision so far. His position isn’t all that surprising after Sanders called the bailout deal “unacceptable” on Wednesday.

As secretary of state in 2011, Clinton voiced support for the austerity measures as part of a massive bailout package, likening them to “chemotherapy.”

"I am not here to in any way downplay the immediate challenges because they are real. But I am here to say that we believe strongly that this will give Greece a very strong economy going forward," Clinton said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Sanders made his statement on Monday. He made it on Sunday.



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