In a hastily arranged White House press conference on Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama pressed for a bigger role of government in curbing the simmering eurozone debt crisis and boost the anemic growth on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Eurozone debt crisis posed a big threat to the U.S. economic recovery, with the region facing the risk of a renewed recession, Obama told reporters.
The press conference came after a weak job report and a string of other economic data showing U.S. economic growth was slowing and the impacts of the escalating eurozone debt crisis had reached U.S. shores, putting pressure on U.S. policy makers to take action.
Experts held that the two-year-old eurozone debt crisis, the epicenter of the global economic slowdown, posed formidable challenges to the United States through waning exports and financial markets fluctuation and dimmed the outlook of Obama's reelection bid.
"Obviously this matters to us because Europe is our largest economic trading partner. If there's less demand for our products in places like Paris or Madrid it could mean less businesses -- or less business for manufacturers in places like Pittsburgh or Milwaukee," said Obama.
He has been in close consultations with European leaders to discuss developments of the eurozone debt turmoil in recent weeks, ahead of a critical Greek election.
Greece is poised to conduct a second round of general election on June 17, in a bid to resolve the political stalemate after the May 6 national election that produced a legislature divided among supporters and critics of the austerity measures mandated by the global rescue package. Standard & Poor's earlier this week forecast a one-in-three chance that Greece will exit the currency bloc.
"With respect to Greece, which has important elections next weekend, we've said that it is in everybody's interest for Greece to remain in the eurozone while respecting its commitments to reform," Obama reiterated the stance in the declaration of Group of Eight (G8) leaders at the Camp David summit he hosted last month.
Obama stressed the importance of checking Spain's banking crisis, as investors were worried that Spain might seek an international bailout like Greece.
"In the short term, they've got to stabilize their financial system. And part of that is taking clear action as soon as possible to inject capital into weak banks," he added.
However, Obama exuded confidence in European leaders' capacity to contain the two-year-old crisis, saying that "the decisions required are tough, but Europe has the capacity to make them".
The White House has used the eurozone debt turmoil as a new line of attack against his rival Republican lawmakers, urging them to pass the full 447-billion-dollar American Jobs Act presented by the administration to Congress last September to spur job creation and guard against economic slowdown risks in other parts of the world.
The extension of payroll tax cuts incorporated in the bill was passed by both chambers of Congress, while other major chunks of the bill including more infrastructure projects were killed by Republicans.
"If Congress had passed it in full, we'd be on track to have a million more Americans working this year. The unemployment rate would be lower. Our economy would be stronger," Obama charged.
"Right now, people in this town should be focused on doing everything we can to keep our recovery going and keeping our country strong," added Obama, a Democratic.
Obama attracted sharp criticism from top GOP leaders within hours of his remarks, indicating that no major policy moves could be easily achieved in this presidential and congressional election year.
"Whether the president wants to acknowledge it or not, we are now living in the Obama Economy, and no 'post-it note' proposal can reverse the damage done by his policies over the past three and a half years," U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell criticized in a statement.
"It's baffling that in the face of all evidence to the contrary, this president still believes that spending money we don't have to inflate the government is the answer to America's economic problems," said the top GOP senator, fresh evidence of clashes between the two parties' economics and governance ideas.
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