Politico: Is Obama’s America like Greece?

May 11, 2010

Interview with POLITICO's David Mark

Should there be international aid for Greece by the IMF or anybody else?

It's heartbreaking to see the riots in one of the great cultures of the world. I'm truly in distress for them. In America we can look at the Greek community as one of the most successful communities in terms of hard work. When I think of people of Greek origins I think of endless hours, mostly in restaurants, who have gone on to build tremendous business enterprises. The Greek community in South Carolina has been extraordinarily politically active, economically active. We're now in second and third generations. Multiple generations move into being doctors, lawyers, insurance executives.

But we know that an entitlement society that will not work - that is a lesson for what will not work in the United States. Social benefits like those in Greece are unsustainable and will collapse.

Many in Greece work 20 hours a week. The pensions are utterly absurd. After age 53 people can retire with 85 to 100 percent of their salary. 

It will work for a little while until they run out of money or can't borrow any more.


Right now we have a government proposing a $1.6 trillion new entitlement with the health care takeover. What we'll have is an inability to provide services.

Where America's directly involved is that we do provide the largest percentage of funding to the IMF. Not far behind will be other countries that are fiscally irresponsible.

What should the Greek government do?

The best course would be what should have occurred with the auto companies and the big banks. We have good bankruptcy laws. You're actually helping the people with the pensions. To me bankruptcy is into a negative, but it's a way to reorganize. That's what should be occurring in Greece and also Iceland.

I believe the voters of England understand what's occurring. Even the Labor Party itself has indicated there would be a change in policy and fiscal restraint.

How will the debt issue play in the midterm elections?

It will speed up desire for repeal the health care takeover. The health care takeover is a time bomb. It will implode the health care system and could bankrupt our country. I represent some of the poorest people in North America. That community I represent will be at extraordinary risk if we don't change course.

It will also build support for an across-the-board tax cut. The unemployment rate has continued to go up because government spending, big government, has never worked anywhere.