President Obama heads to the G20 summit in Cannes, France, later today, where the Eurozone crisis and the upcoming Greek referendum will take center stage. All eyes will be on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who are leading the effort to avoid a global financial crisis. Obama will meet with them both.
The White House continues to say that the pending Greek bailout vote underscores the need for European leaders to “elaborate further and implement rapidly” the debt deal that they agreed to last week. The plan, however, currently lacks specificity and European leaders need to figure out how to finance the $1.4 trillion bailout fund designed to prevent Greece’s troubles from spreading elsewhere in Europe.
With the economic recovery in the U.S. lagging, Obama is not in a strong position to lecture his European counterparts, nor is the U.S. likely to offer financial help outside the IMF.
European officials have petitioned Beijing for a big investment in their rescue fund. The White House, which now finds itself fighting the narrative that China is going into the G20 with more clout than the U.S., has downplayed whether such a development would elevate China’s influence.
“The focus here is not on whether or not the Chinese involve themselves financially. I mean, that really is a sideshow to the focus here,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday. “The focus here is a European problem that requires a European solution, for which the Europeans have the resources and capacity necessary, and that requires the kind of political will that would allow for the rapid implementation of the necessary solutions.”
White House officials insist the president brings to the table his vital experience from the 2008 economic crisis in the U.S.
“The United States is still the largest economy in the world. It is still the most powerful nation in terms of its alliances and its influence around the world. And that influence comes in a variety of ways, including the wealth of experience that we have,” Carney said.