Where the Candidates Stand on the Eurozone Crisis

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The morning after the presidential town hall debate, we posted a question to our Facebook friends: “What would you have asked the candidates if you had been in the audience at last night’s debate?” We got hundreds of replies on a range of topics. From now until Election Day (Nov. 6), we’ll do our best to answer your questions for the candidates by researching what they’ve said in the past.

Stephen K. Smith would ask the candidates:
“Some economist have written that Europe is the biggest threat to our economic recovery. What are your concerns about the Eurozone crisis?”

During his presidency, Barack Obama has pushed G-8 leaders to invest in growth instead of the austerity measures being employed in Greece. Obama has also emphasized ties between the European and American economy; during an October 6 press conference to discuss the American Jobs Act, Obama said, “The problems Europe is having today could have a very real effect on our economy at a time when it’s already fragile.”

The Washington Post and Reuters report that many European leaders openly support Obama and worry about working with Romney after his statements criticizing Europe’s big governments. In August, the British newspaper The Independent reported that the Obama administration would pressure European leaders to hold off on making a decision about Greece’s membership in the Eurozone until after the U.S. elections.

Mitt Romney has said little about how he would address the Eurozone crisis, but throughout the debates has repeatedly stated that America is “heading toward Greece” while arguing for less government spending. In the first debate, he also singled out Spain as an example of big government, to the consternation of European leaders. At campaign events, Romney has claimed the president is making America more like Europe with his healthcare and tax policies.

In June, a senior economic adviser to Mitt Romney, R. Glenn Hubbard, wrote an op-ed in a leading German business newspaper. The op-ed was written in response to statements by Obama calling for Germany to ease austerity measures in favor of policies promoting growth. The New York Times Caucus blog reported that “Hubbard proposed a classic conservative pro-austerity, anti-Keynesian approach, arguing that cutting government spending will restore public confidence, encourage growth and avert future tax increases.” Hubbard implied that Romney’s policies to cut spending in the U.S. were similar to the austerity measures being considered by Germany in the Eurozone.

European leaders from across the political spectrum have not embraced Romney, and the candidate’s mid-summer tour of Europe did little to improve his standing with them. When he returned home, Der Spiegel wrote in a piece headlined “Tour de Gaffes”: “His visits to Britain, Israel or Poland didn’t go very well. The result has again been rejection of one kind or another. And the candidate has only himself to blame for this gaffe-filled tour.”

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