Obama lauds EU’s attempts to solve euro debt crisis
AFP WASHINGTON US PRESIDENT Barack Obama called German counterpart Angela Merkel on Tuesday to welcome “positive steps” taken by the European Union to ease its smoldering debt crisis, the White House said. Hours after the EU and the private sector inked a 237-billioneuro ($310 billion) bailout designed to keep Greece in the single currency, the White House lauded the deal as important, but stressed there was more work to do.
“The president thanked the chancellor for her leadership, and welcomed last night’s agreement in Europe on a new rescue program for Greece to help reduce its debt to sustainable levels,” said spokesman Jay Carney.
But he added: “Additional steps should be taken,” including strengthening a financial firewall that would prevent the debt crisis from spreading to larger economies such as Italy and Spain.
“Progress still needs to be made,” said Carney.
Under the terms of the Greek deal, banks will take a 53 percent loss on Greek bonds while Athens commits to a series of brutal cost-cutting measures and to change the constitution to debt repayments priority.
Even with the deal, the European Union and its members will have to run a steeple chase of obstacles to keep the eurozone together, as multiple members labor under a weighty mix of low growth, high unemployment and skyrocketing debt.
Earlier relishing a political victory, Obama said on Tuesday that Congress “did the right thing” by extending payroll tax cuts for millions of Americans. He urged lawmakers to push forward on more measures, from assistance to struggling homeowners to increased taxes on the wealthy, saying the looming election was no excuse for inaction in Washington.
“Don’t stop here. Keep going,’” Obama said during a White House event marking the passage of the tax cuts. “Keep taking the action that people are calling for to keep this economy growing.
This may be an election year, but the American people have no patience for gridlock,” he said.
Obama was celebrating a tax cut that is already in place, but due to expire at month’s end. He said the extension of the tax cut for the rest of the year will have a spillover effect: More people will spend money and more businesses in turn will be prodded to hire workers, and so “the entire economy” gets a boost.
Congress overwhelmingly passed the $143 billion measure on Friday. The bill extends both a 2 percentage point reduction in the tax that funds Social Security and extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
The measure also averts a big cut in the reimbursements doctors get for treating Medicare patients.