- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

President Obama on Wednesday tried to tamp down talk of discord between the United States and much of Europe over the agenda for next month’s global financial summit in London, a rift that could do massive damage to already hemorrhaging world markets.

“We’ve got two goals in the G-20. The first is to make sure that there is concerted action around the globe to jump-start the economy. The second goal is to make sure that we are moving forward on a regulatory reform agenda,” Mr. Obama said after a meeting in the Oval Office with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

Mr. Obama and top economic adviser Larry Summers have made comments in recent days emphasizing a desire for a concerted stimulus to be the main agenda item in London at the Group of 20 summit.

And Democratic congressional leaders have begun to draft legislation for a second stimulus bill to follow on last month’s $787 billion bill aimed at jolting the economy back to life, after hearing this week that it might save or create only 2.5 million jobs by the end of 2010, which is one million less than Mr. Obama promised.

Talk of a second stimulus, which would be the third since last year counting President Bush’s $160 billion package, has drawn howls from conservatives and budget hawks.

Meanwhile, in Europe, most countries there are clear that they see an overhaul of the world’s financial regulatory system as their top priority at the summit.

Mr. Geithner, seated next to Mr. Obama in the Oval Office, noted that he is traveling Thursday to meet with G-20 finance ministers, and said he hopes to “bring together a new consensus globally on how to strengthen this global financial system.”

The president was vague about whether he actually is proposing a round of additional concerted stimulus, indicating that he might be calling for something that has already happened in the United States and other places.

“I think that the United States has actually taken a significant leap on a number of these steps that are required,” he said. “We are doing a good job stimulating our economy here at home.”

The president said that the summit next month is “a critical meeting at a obviously critical time in the world’s economy.”

“We can do a really good job here at home with a whole host of policies, but if you continue to see deterioration in the world economy, that’s going to set us back,” he said.

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