Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Looming Financial Crisis: Greek Tragedy at Home & Abroad

The White House still thinks a compromise can be worked out over raising the debt ceiling.

“We believe there is the opportunity here for a substantial compromise on a significant deficit reduction agreement that is done in a way that is balanced, allows the economy to continue to grow and create jobs even as we get our fiscal house in order," White House spokesman Jay Carney said today.

President Obama met behind closed doors with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell last night, but there was no give in the impasse over the Republican's refusal to increase revenues through tax hikes by closing tax loopholes.

Obama's often-ignored left-leaning base voters would like to see revenues raised by wiping out tax breaks for the oil industry and companies that send American jobs overseas. 

"They agreed to continue talking. It was a useful meeting and their consultations will continue with the President, with the Vice President, with others on our team, with leaders of Congress and members of the negotiating team in Congress," Carney said.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the self-styled socialist lawmaker, blasted the President, charging that Obama is going sell out working families, the elderly and poor by caving to the Republicans. Sanders is asking Americans to sign onto a petition he is sending to the White House.

"Mr. President, please listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe that deficit reduction must be about shared sacrifice. The wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations in this country must pay their fair share," Sanders wrote in a a letter to Obama posted on his website.

With a little more than a month before the deadline, the U.S. national debt stands at more than $14.3 trillion. Obama will host Senate Democrats tomorrow to plot their strategy moving forward.

Across the ocean all hell is breaking loose over the same issue.

About 20,000 protesters, a handful lobbing molotov cocktails, tried to penetrate a 4,000-man human shield around the Greek parliament in Athens today to protest proposed government cutbacks and top-to-bottom tax hikes.

This Greek tragedy came at the start of a two-day national strike protesting a new round of national austerity reforms. Greece's parliament has a vote scheduled for tomorrow on the $40 billion package.

Greece has a $17 billion interest payment due next week on the a $156 billion bailout loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

If it defaults there are widespread fears that it could trigger a global economic catastrophe on par with the one Wall Street and the banking industry gave the world in the summer of 2008.

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