Leaders of the House Republican Conference, weary of government bailouts, called on the Obama administration not to provide the US share of a $39 billion International Monetary Fund loan aimed at helping Greece avoid bankruptcy. Washington State Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers says "in the last two years, you see where we bailed out Wall street and GM and Chrysler and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and now we're being asked to help bailout Greece." She and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, of Indiana, sent Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner a letter warning "a Greek bailout today will encourage larger countries, such as Spain and Italy...to get in line for American tax dollars tomorrow."
At issue is the US share of a $39 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, about $7 or $8 billion, which will be voted on Sunday in Washington. The IMF loan is in addition to $106 in European loans, which makes the US share of the total deal about 5% or 6%. President Obama has privately told the Greek Prime Minister that he supports the deal, but it's a measure of the unpopularity of bailouts that in his daily briefing White House spokesman Robert Gibbs would only say "it's an important thing for Europe to work through." Later, the White House released a printed statement saying of the IMF loan "We strongly support this effort to help restore stability to Greece and confidence to the global financial system."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned a Greek debt default could push other European countries over the edge, by sharply reducing the value of the Euro. With their economies so interconnected, Merkel says "this is about nothing less than the future of Europe." Prime Minister George Papandreou said before the vote "either we...implement this deal or we condemn Greece to bankruptcy." And while the White House is reluctant to publicly support the loan deal, Gibbs says the President has been closely following the Greek debt crisis. "Anything we believe has the ability to affect the global economic recovery is and should be a concern to this country," said Gibbs in today's briefing.
Republicans continue to oppose US participation in the loan, however. Some feel this week's huge protests raise doubts the Greeks will actually accept the government salary and pension cuts and higher taxes the Parliament approved today. And some Republicans feel the Greek lifestyle doesn't deserve a bailout. McMorris-Rogers said "average retirement age is 53 years old. They get 80% of their salary as a retirement. At some point, i think Europe needs to evaluate whether or not they can continue these types of social programs that they have had for a number of years."
Wendell Goler serves as a senior White House and foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC), joining the network in 1996.