Reaganism is a Failure from Greece to Washington, D.C.

Thom plus logo We are witnessing the failure of an ideology on a global scale.

As the Greek debt crisis moves into its most explosive phase yet, many people here in America are asking themselves, “Why?”

“How did tiny little Greece,” they wonder, “become the focal point of one of the biggest crises in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall? And why, after 5 years of bailouts, is that country still on the verge of economic collapse?”

Well, the answer to these questions is actually pretty simple: austerity.

In exchange for rescue packages to help it pay its debts, the European Union, International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank – “the troika” -- have forced Greece to slash spending, cut social services, and the idea was that these cuts would make Greece more “competitive,” grow the economy, and therefore help the government raise enough money to pay its debts on its own without help from Europe.

That was the idea at least. In reality, the exact opposite has happened.

Since the troika austerity measures began in 2010, the Greek economy has shrunk by a quarter, unemployment has skyrocketed to 25 percent, and because most of the money it’s been lent has gone straight back to the banksters, Greece is still more than $271 billion in debt.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Over that same 5 year period, real wages in Greece have decreased by 22 percent, youth unemployment has risen as high as 60 percent, child poverty has shot up to 40.5 percent, and cuts to the national health service have increased infant mortality by 40 percent and doubled the HIV infection rate.

And, if all that wasn't bad enough, malaria has made a return after years of staying under control and suicide rates have skyrocketed.

Oh, and a quarter of million businesses failed between 2008 and 2013.

Whatever way you look at it, austerity has been a complete and utter disaster, and Greece’s Syriza-led government is completely justified in opposing more cuts, even if doing so might force Greece to abandon the Euro.

When it comes down to it, austerity is an ideology, plain and simple, an ideology that is so out of touch with economic reality that it’s more like a fundamentalist religion than a coherent fiscal policy.

No country in the history of the world has ever cut its way to prosperity, and no country --- certainly not Greece -- ever will.

Which is exactly why the House of Republican fiscal year 2016 budget is so scary. Dubbed “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,” this budget proposal is just an updated version of Paul Ryan’s so-called “Path to Prosperity” plan.

And like the Ryan plan, it would gut Medicaid, privatize Medicare, and repeal Obamacare. It would also slash food stamps, Pell Grants, and transportation funding.

In total, the Republicans’ new budget calls for almost $5.5 trillion dollars in cuts, all without raising a cent of taxes.

Sound familiar?

It should, because this is austerity in everything but name. What Republicans want to do America is the exact thing the EU has been doing to Greece for the past 5 years. And just as EU austerity has devastated the Greek economy, so too would Republican austerity devastate the American economy.

According to the Economics Policy Institute, “the House GOP budget cuts would reduce GDP by 1 percent in [2016] and decrease payrolls by 1.3 million jobs… in [2017] GDP would be reduced by almost 2.5 percent with payrolls decreasing by 2.9 million jobs.”

Shocking, but certainly not surprising. That’s because the House Republican budget is cut from the same failed ideological cloth as the EU’s campaign to bleed Greece dry. Austerity has never worked and never will work, and the economic crisis that’s brewing right now across the Atlantic is a direct result of the failure on the part of European leaders to realize that.

Let’s just hope that our leaders here in America see the light about austerity before we go the way of Greece.

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