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Bernie’s Greek Crisis Stance Points to America’s Entitlement Crisis

July 6, 2015

By Jonathan Tobin

Americans have the luxury of viewing the drama surrounding the Greek vote to reject a European Union bailout of their bankrupt economy with some detachment. If Greece goes bankrupt, few American financial institutions are directly affected in even a minor way. The consequences for European unity and the future of the Euro currency are not unimportant to the global economy but, again, that is not something that will have immediate consequences for the United States. But the Greek crisis does teach us a lesson and we have Senator Bernie Sanders to thank for a reminder yesterday as to why Americans should not only care about what is going in Greece but should take a lesson from their folly. By endorsing the decision of a large majority of Greek voters to, in essence, keep spending without being compelled to pay their debts, the increasingly popular left-wing challenger to Hillary Clinton highlighted a basic difference between Democrats and Republicans about our own looming entitlement spending crisis heading into 2016.

Let’s specify that Greece’s situation is not directly comparable to the ongoing debate as to how to stop adding to the national debt that has grown exponentially on President Obama’s watch, adding to the admittedly dismal records of most of his recent Republican and Democratic predecessors. Though some politicians, like Rep. Paul Ryan, have sought to highlight the impending fiscal catastrophe unless entitlement spending is reined in, common sense on this issue has been hard to find. Out-of-control spending is a bipartisan affliction, but Democrats have consistently sought to derail debates about how to cap entitlements into partisan rumbles in which Republicans are depicted as wishing to throw wheelchair-bound grandmothers over the cliff. The result is that we continue to spend money that we don’t have (or rather have borrowed from China) but to add to the problem by creating new entitlements such as ObamaCare subsidies that may have a noble purpose but have also massively expanded the scope of government spending and power.

Americans are by nature an optimistic people, and many of us continue to think that we can grow or tax our way out of any problem we create. Growth is essential to the country’s future. But taxes that will depress an economy that continues to struggle despite an anemic recovery (while strengthening government) are not a sensible solution. While we can debate the right answers to the problem, what should not be in dispute is that Americans cannot afford to walk blindly into the future compiling debts that our children and grandchildren will be forced to pay. Nor can we continue to increase the burden of entitlement spending which ultimately compels the nation to sink further into debt...

Read the full article at Commentary: Bernie’s Greek Crisis Stance Points to America’s Entitlement Crisis