Off with their heads


U.S. Politicians Eye Europe Warily As Austerity Fatigue Ousts Governments

Ned Simons reported from London, Alexandre Phalippou from Paris, and Ryan Grim from Washington.
When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke ventured to the Senate last Thursday for a closed-door gathering, he found a nervous Democratic caucus. One senator put their anxiety into words: How worried should we be about Europe?
The question wasn't merely about the drag on U.S. gross domestic product that a downturn on the continent could have. More importantly, Democrats were worried about the anti-incumbent anger in the European electorate, said one senator who was in the meeting.
Bernanke demurred, declining to get into the politics, but other senators in the room answered the question: Voters, they warned, will punish incumbents for the pain of austerity.
"Incumbency plus austerity equals political death," MP Jon Trickett, a top official with Ed Miliband's Labour Party, told HuffPost. "There is a general spirit across Europe, and perhaps in the U.S., against the political elite."
The weekend after the meeting, that equation played out as predicted, smashing Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling party in a state election described as a devastating setback by German media.
One of the most powerful messages that U.S. politicians have delivered to voters over the past few years is the warning that the nation will "become Greece" if it doesn't lower its debt and deficit. But now voters in Greece and across Europe are sending back a warning of their own.

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