The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

June 14, 2013

European growth still on US agenda, not as loudly

(Continued)

As a result, administration officials and former government economic advisers say Obama and his aides will still push European nations to moderate their austerity programs of spending cuts and tax increases in favor of more stimulus to boost growth and counter the high unemployment that still afflicts many countries in Europe, particularly Spain and Greece.

Germany and Britain have resisted some of the U.S. entreaties, arguing that heavily indebted European nations must trim deficits to restore market confidence and lower government borrowing costs.

"I think, I hope, that the Obama administration realizes that its policy messages about cooling it on the austerity and start stimulating haven't worked in Europe," said Heather Conley, director of Europe programs for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington who worked in President George W. Bush's State Department. "And this has been actually an area of growing tensions underneath the surface. It's private. They don't allow these to come more publicly, but it's really been quite, you know, a point of contention."

Japan's growth, however, stands as a potential example of the benefits of raising domestic demand. Questions remain whether the efforts of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are sustainable. So-called Abenomics have also raised worries among U.S. manufacturers that Japan's real goal is to weaken the yen as a way to gain trade advantages.

Administration officials say they believe that they can make a compelling case by using the United States as an example of how to help the economic recovery without deep budget cuts. The Obama administration responded to the recession with a massive stimulus package in 2009. Officials argue that increased economic activity and a turnaround in the housing industry have helped increase revenues and lower the deficits.

But the U.S. deficits have also been lowered through steps that could also be deemed austerity measures, including a tax increase on wealthy Americans, restoration of a payroll tax on all workers and automatic budget cuts that kicked in March. By many economists' assessments, those steps have cost the U.S. economy 1 percentage point in potential growth.

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