DECKER: Obama’s German tutorial

Collapsing Europe warns against U.S. deficit spending

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

President Obama likes to give lectures. At the Group of 20 summit in Mexico last week, he instructed German Chancellor Angela Merkel on why Berlin must underwrite more bailouts for bankrupt European nations. The German position is that sinking economies such as Greece, Spain and Italy (for starters) need to control deficit spending and show that future infusions of cash won’t be wasted the way previous handouts were. This reasonable requirement has sparked a backlash against Teutonic austerity among big spenders.

In an unsatirizable display of chutzpah, Mr. Obama reproved Europeans for not wrestling their debt problems under control. Given that Mr. Obama is responsible for spiking U.S. national debt to a record $15.8 trillion, which surpasses our gross domestic product for a whole year, his advice makes about as much sense as a hard-core drug addict telling others they shouldn’t drink too much caffeine. The arrogance hasn’t gone unnoticed in Germany, where last year’s economic growth of 2.7 percent was more than double America’s and unemployment is about half the U.S. jobless rate.

“People are always very quick at giving others advice,” an irritated German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Sunday. “Mr. Obama should first of all take care of reducing the American deficit, which is higher than in the eurozone.” According to the Associated Press, “The [European] bloc’s debt relative to its economic output stands at about 80 percent, while it is about 100 percent in the U.S.” On fiscal policy, Mr. Obama talks out of both sides of his mouth. He bellyaches about the danger of the European economy dragging down America, but at the same time, he warns Europeans against the sensible idea that cutting government spending will solve their budget problems. At least he’s consistent. Although the Keynesian approach hasn’t generated growth on either side of the Atlantic, Mr. Obama’s response to failed “stimulus” spending is even more spending.

Even if throwing money around on more European bailouts worked, Germany - the fourth-largest economy in the world and the biggest in Europe - isn’t rich enough to prop up the whole European Union (EU) forever. This reality is being widely ignored. Some of the smoke-and-mirrors temptations for making debt disappear by failing European countries is to simply not pay back their loans, repay vast sums in weak funny money (for example, a reintroduced Greek drachma) upon leaving the euro currency, or have the EU adopt a system of common debt, whereby national liabilities could be offloaded by spreading arrears across the whole continent. All of these schemes leave Germany - the EU’s largest creditor nation - holding the bag.

Economist R. Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School, wrote in the German publication Handelsblatt, “The advice of the U.S. government regarding solutions to the crisis is misleading. For Europe and especially for Germany.” This got under the skin of Mr. Obama, who whined, “Traditionally, the notion has been that America’s political differences end at the water’s edge.” If that’s how the president feels, he should stop telling leaders overseas what to do.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Brett M. Decker

Brett M. Decker

Brett M. Decker, former Editorial Page Editor for The Washington Times, was an editorial page writer and editor for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, Senior Vice President of the Export-Import Bank, Senior Vice President of Pentagon Federal Credit Union, speechwriter to then-House Majority Whip (later Majority Leader) Tom DeLay and reporter and television producer for the legendary Robert ...

Latest Stories

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts