Nov 23, 2011 12:54 AM GMT
In an apparent suggestion of United States hypocrisy on debt issues, a journalist in the German media challenged White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on the role of the United States in responding to the European debt crisis.
"The U.S., as far as I know, has a worse debt-to-GDP ratio than the whole eurozone, and we are talking about the eurozone, not about the United States and that Congress can't get its act together," said a member of the German press during the briefing. "So from the European perspective, it seems that this country is in a bigger mess than Europe. We are not proud where we are. We know that it's slow and not bold, and so on, but at least they are doing something; they are deciding something, they're trying to pull that through. And here, nothing is happening -- third time this year," he added, referring to the Supercommittee failure.
Debt crises in the Eurozone have brought down the ruling Greek government, the longtime Italian prime minister, and the wrecked the political fortunes of Spain's socialist party, which just sustained major electoral losses against Spanish Conservatives. Germany, among the wealthiest of the Eurozone countries, is expected to make significant contributions to any bailouts that might take place within the European Union -- much to the chagrin of the German people.
"I don't think it's helpful to get into which side of the Atlantic handles its problems better or worse," Carney responded. "I think each side needs to -- we need to act and the Congress needs to act, this country needs to act. And obviously, as I just discussed in answer to a question earlier, the Europeans need to move forward with rapid implementation of their plans."
That answer, with its recommendation regarding European action, did not seem to satisfy Carney's interlocutor, who began to ask "do you have [any] understanding -- the feeling in the eurozone, I said, it’s not really a time where the U.S. is in a position to give advice to Europe."
Carney interjected, "Again, I don't --there's no benefit in -- I think we've been clear about our view on Europe's capacity and what it needs to do." He added that "we obviously are very focused on the issues we have here at home."