President Obama, under pressure for the weak economic recovery at home, on Friday attempted to shift the focus to Europe, delivering a to-do list to leaders overseas that emphasized economic growth over cost cutting.
Not unlike his message for Republicans in Congress, Obama said European leaders needed to focus first on job growth and leave longer-term fiscal reform for later.
“That recipe of short-term investments in growth and jobs with a long-term path of fiscal responsibility is the right approach to take for, I think, not only the United States but also for Europe,” Obama said.
“If they are just cutting and cutting and cutting, and their unemployment rate is going up and up and up, and people are pulling back further from spending money because they're feeling a lot of pressure, ironically that could actually make it harder for them to carry out some of these reforms over the long term,” he said.
The U.S. economic recovery has been weak and uneven. Recent data has underscored just how grim the economic picture is and will likely remain for months. And there is little the president can do between now and the November elections to spur economic growth.
Obama repeated what is now a regular call for Congress to advance legislation – this time, he urged a bill that would give states and local government money to boost public-sector hiring – there is next to no chance Republicans will respond. Their 2012 electoral strategy revolves around the lousy economy under Obama, so handing the White House anything that can be seen as a victory in the eyes of voters is a non-starter.
Obama certainly knows this, and he used Friday’s comments to try and tell voters he was doing what he could but that others – Europe and the GOP – had to make tough decisions too.
“The solutions to these problems are hard but there are solutions,” he said.