European Debt Crisis

Mario Monti unveils austerity plan for Italy

Jeremy Hobson Dec 5, 2011

Jeremy Hobson: Lots of movement this morning when it comes to the European debt crisis. Vice President Biden is in Athens, offering U.S. support as Greece tries to get its finances in order. The leaders of Germany and France are in Paris meeting to come up with a long-term strategy to keep the euro together. And Italy’s new leader is proposing big tax and spending changes ahead of a summit on Friday.

For more on that, let’s bring in Isabella Bufacchi, a journalist with the financial newspaper Il Sole Venti Quattro Ore. She joins us now. Good morning.

Isabella Bufacchi: Good morning.

Hobson: Well, what exactly is Italy’s new leader, Mario Monti, proposing this week?

Bufacchi: The numbers are big. It is an austerity plan with spending cuts and tax increases. There are new taxes on wealth, they are reintroducing the property tax — which was just taken away recently on the first house. So, it’s a lot of measures that have two, let’s say, ambitious objectives.

Hobson: And I would imagine that if a U.S. leader were to propose big tax increases and spending cuts like this, on this scale, it would be very difficult for that person to get the public behind him or her. How difficult is it going to be for Monti to get all this through this week?

Bufacchi: Well, it’s going to be this week and then probably reforms would take a few more weeks — to year end.

Hobson: But still, very quickly?

Bufacchi: Yes. But I think there is a mix — and this is what Mario Monti is hoping. Saying, OK, there is a lot of sacrifices for some, but people who are not paying taxes or people who are very wealthy, they’re going to pay more.

Hobson: Isabella Bufacchi with Il Sole Venti Quattro Ore, thank you so much for joining us.

Bufacchi: Thank you.

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