Jennifer Loven of AP. Where’s Jennifer — there you are.
Q Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. President, you come here with several signs of fairly broad challenges to American economic leadership. There’s the resistance to big, new stimulus spending; there’s talk of a global — new global currency; talk of even stricter regulations than are on the table now. How do you answer that? And what do you say to the talk that there’s a decline in the American model, American prominence?
And then to the Prime Minister, if I could. French President Sarkozy said he might walk out of the summit if the regulations that are on the table do not get more strict, say, on offshore tax havens and on risky financial products. Can you answer that?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think if you pulled quotes from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, from previous news reports, you might find similar contentions that America was on decline. And somehow it hasn’t worked out that way, because I think that there is a vibrancy to our economic model, a durability to our political model, and a set of ideals that has sustained us through even the most difficult times.
Now, with respect to the current crisis, I think that there is no doubt that at a time when the world is fearful, that there is a strong tendency to look for somebody to blame. And I think that given our prominence in the world financial system, it’s natural that questions are asked — some of them very legitimate — about how we have participated in global financial markets.
Having said that, I am absolutely confident that this meeting will reflect enormous consensus about the need to work in concert to deal with these problems. I think that the separation between the various parties involved has been vastly overstated. If you look at where there has been the biggest debate, and I think that the press has fastened on this as a ongoing narrative — this whole issue of fiscal stimulus. And the fact of the matter is, is that almost every country that’s participating in this summit has engaged in fiscal stimulus. The ones that are perceived as being resistant to fiscal stimulus have done significant fiscal stimulus. There has not been a dispute about the need for government to act in the face of a rapidly contracting set of markets and very high unemployment.
Now, there have been differences in terms of how should that stimulus be shaped. There have been arguments, for example, among some European countries that because they have more of a social safety net, that some of the countercyclical measures that we took — for example, unemployment insurance — were less necessary for them to take. But the truth is, is that that’s — that’s just arguing at the margins. The core notion that government has to take some steps to deal with a contracting global marketplace and that we should be promoting growth, that’s not in dispute.