Government Austerity Bill and Protests in Greece

Greece is in for a record bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund as Greek Parliament approved a 30 billion euro ($40 billion) austerity bill Thursday. The measures within the bill include pay cuts for the public sector, tighter retirement rules, and higher taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.

Speaking to the house before the vote, Prime Minister George Papandreou said there was no time to lose in reforming Greeces broken economy, whose debt and deficit problems have triggered a wider crisis threatening the entire 16-nation euro zone.
"The emergency measures are the condition for us to regain our credibility and win time, lost time. The time to make the big changes that were delayed for years," he said.

However, many Greeks did not agree with the Parliaments decision. Wednesday saw one of the most violent and largest protest in years, as a reported 50,000 Greeks marched in Athens. Three local bankers were killed during a petrol bomb attack. The protesting continued on to Thursday when protesters gathered outside Parliament during the vote to voice their opposition to the austerity bill.

Opposition parties railed against the measures, which many Greeks complain are too draconian and will only set off a recession that will compound the debt problem. “The dose of the medicine you are administering is in danger of killing the patient,” said Antonis Samaras, the conservative opposition leader.



American taxpayers are paying for $6.8 billion of the Greek bailout

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