Obama Stakes US Economic Prospects on Europe

Tuesday, 08 May 2012 01:08 PM

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The anti-incumbent election returns in France and Greece pose a threat to the U.S. economic recovery and, in turn, to President Barack Obama’s re-election. Obama is staking much of his campaign on a fragile economic recovery that could falter should Europe stumble, The Washington Post reported.

“Our economy continues to face some headwinds, and the euro-zone crisis is one of them,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

The debate in Europe is similar to that in the United States, where the struggle is between those advocating cuts in government spending and those pushing spending to promote growth and to maintain public services. In France and Greece, those advocating austerity lost.

France elected Francois Hollande, the first Socialist Party candidate to win the presidency since 1995. Voters in Greece rejected both major political parties, the Post reported. Obama has pushed European leaders to adopt a plan of more spending and a less-tight monetary policy.

Justice Vaisse, director of research for the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, told the Post that “Hollande can be the catalyst for a new consensus that is more balanced toward growth than the previous political line.”

“The flip side is having [Mitt] Romney make the case that now Obama is adopting the ideas of a French socialist,” he added. “Hollande is indeed a French socialist, and while that is not as bad as it sounds, it is an epithet in this country.”

However, Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation, told the Post that the election returns in France and Greece will “lead to months of economic uncertainty and turmoil in Europe, which will have a direct impact on the U.S. markets, as well.”

Regardless, the debate will be in Obama’s court next week when leaders of the Group of Eight industrial economies meet at Camp David.


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