Greek leaders just can't please anyone. Thousands protested in Athens this week after Greek politicians, trying to win a massive European bailout, finally accepted a new round of job and spending cuts. Then, European ministers declared late Thursday that the controversial austerity plan doesn't go far enough. They gave Athens' divided parliament a week to come up with another $430 million in savings — in exchange for a new $170 billion bailout that Greece needs to avoid defaulting on its debt. Are Greece's proposed reductions, which include eliminating thousands of government jobs, really not enough to put the country's finances back on the right track?
The cuts are nowhere near deep enough: Pay no attention to the "temper-tantrum street protests," says Daniel Flynn at Front Page. Greek leaders have not even come close to trying to "institute meaningful reform." Greece is still thoroughly addicted to big government, with free child care, university education, and health care for all. Workers retire at 53, on average, with decades of pensions at taxpayer expense. "'Nothing left to cut' is the rhetoric. Reality is closer to 'nothing has been cut.'"
"Greece's 'austerity plan is anything but"
Perhaps no austerity plan will save Greece: Slashing budgets around Europe "is vital," says Mats Persson at Britain's Telegraph, "but no one can live on austerity alone." The current rescue plan assumes that Greece will magically return to growth in 2013. In reality, the brutal cuts will likely push Greece deeper into recession. "It would be far better to have Greece go through a full default now — say, a 70 percent write-down" of its debt. Only then will Athens really have a clean slate and a real shot at bouncing back.
"For Greece this is only the beginning"
Now, Europe needs to step up to the plate: Pushing Athens for more austerity could push Greece "straight off a cliff," and possibly the world economy with it, says Bloomberg in an editorial. The current rescue plan is adequate — it lets Greece make its March debt payments and avoid default. And now that Athens has held up its "extremely onerous" end of the bargain, Greece's creditors — including the European Central Bank — should take heavier losses to ease Greece's unsustainable debt burden and increase its "chances of pulling through."
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