April 2, 2009

I'm betting that wingnut heads will explode over President Obama stating the obvious: eight years of BushCo rule have left us in no shape to proclaim "We're No. 1!":

LONDON, April 1 -- On the eve of a global economic summit here, President Obama delivered an unusual warning Wednesday for an American leader: The "voracious" U.S. economy can no longer be the sole engine of global growth.

The statement signaled a recognition of a new economic era with a less dominant U.S. role. Although Obama said the United States should not miss "an opportunity to lead" the way out of the crisis, he suggested he would not be the globe's financial decider. "I came here to listen," he said, "not to lecture."

His message also amounted to a challenge to world leaders that highlights the core differences expected at Thursday's summit. As more than 20 heads of state write a plan to combat the crisis, major European powers are firmly resisting calls to further open their coffers and cut taxes to spur the global economy.

Uh, tax cuts? Unlike the U.S., European taxes fund a strong net of social services like health care that are especially important in an economic downtown. Seems to me that's the last thing they should do right now - especially while they have riots in the streets.

Such resistance may not have mattered as much in the past. In previous downturns -- including the Asian crisis in the late 1990s -- the United States was by and large the driving force of global recoveries. But in the wake of the current crisis, Obama said, Washington will have to deal with "our long-term fiscal position" and the notoriously low consumer savings rates that for years drove Americans further into debt even as U.S. imports soared.

This time, he said, the rest of the world cannot depend on the "United States being a voracious consumer market."

"Those are all issues that we have to deal with internally, which means that if there's going to be renewed growth, it cannot just be the United States as the engine," he said during a news conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. "Everybody is going to have to pick up the pace."

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