In defending his record on the economy, Obama has claimed that Europe's spreading debt crisis is frightening investors, weighing down the U.S. recovery, and stalling job creation. Many economists agree, suggesting that the future health of the U.S. economy rests on factors beyond Obama's control. But because Obama is also blaming Republicans for blocking his economic agenda, some critics say that Obama is simply grasping for scapegoats. Is Obama using Europe as an excuse?
Europe can't explain the U.S. economy's weakness: "In the Age of Obama, the buck stops in Berlin," says Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal. But that's ridiculous. In 1997, the Asian economic crisis collapsed currencies, zapped millions of foreign jobs, and cratered credit ratings — and the U.S. economy grew at a healthy rate of 4.5 percent. Furthermore, U.S. exports to Europe have increased over the course of the Obama presidency, meaning the continent is a net plus for the U.S. economy. Obama is quickly becoming the "Excuse-Maker-in-Chief."
"A Presidency of Excuses"
And the U.S. should be able to adapt: Obama's excuse-making is wrongheaded, says Matthew Yglesias at Slate. "If you're driving and the road curves and there's no guardrail, what you need to do is steer the car properly, not complain about road engineering while your car goes off a cliff." The U.S. can react to the euro debt crisis in a variety of ways — such as printing more money or passing stimulus measures — that could offset its adverse effects. So "make no mistake — if disaster strikes it'll be a failure made in the United States."
"America's economic future will be determined in America, not Europe"
Hold on. The euro crisis could kill the U.S. economy: Europe's "economic carnage could easily drag our fragile economy down," says Jordan Weissmann at The Atlantic. We don't even know how exposed the U.S. financial system is to Europe, a blind spot that is "truly terrifying." While a drop in European trade wouldn't directly devastate the U.S., it could "sink world trade across the board," which in a deeply interconnected global economy is really bad news. And that's not to mention the American companies — think Ford and McDonald's — that do a a significant percentage of their business in Europe. "At this point, our future depends on the ability of Europe's leaders to get their house in order."
"Eurogeddon: A worst-case scenario handbook for the European debt crisis"