- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SPENDING ALARM

The ambassador from the European Union is leaving Washington worried about the breakneck pace of spending and borrowing on both sides of the Atlantic and warning of severe consequences to the standards of living.

“We have a stake in one another’s success. Thus, we have a stake in one another’s politics,” Ambassador John Bruton told the European Institute this week. “American political decisions, or lack of decisions, affect Europe. European political decisions, or lack of decisions, affect America.”

He cited common goals from developing future relations with China, Russia and India to fighting the war against terrorism.

“We can only achieve these goals if we have power - soft power and sometimes hard power,” he said, adding that those goals are unachievable without money.

“Without money, you cannot defend yourself,” he said. “That is why the debate about looming deficits on both sides of the Atlantic is crucial.”

Mr. Bruton, a former prime minister of Ireland who led the Emerald Isle to strong economic growth in the late 1990s, is alarmed by predictions that the United States and EU could be borrowing more than they are producing within 20 years.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has predicted that U.S. debt could reach 150 percent of gross domestic product by 2030, and the European Commission has warned that EU debt could soar to 155 percent of the GDP within two decades. President Obama’s policies are expected to lead to trillion-dollar deficits for years to come.

“Those levels of indebtedness would increase vulnerability of the EU member states and the United States to international interest-rate fluctuations, and they would reduce very significantly the resources that we could set aside for military, naval and homeland security, as well as for vital social and education services,” he said.

Mr. Bruton, who is leaving Washington after five years as the EU ambassador, cautioned political leaders against the shortsighted pursuit of re-election and urged them to “get serious” about long-term issues like government health care spending, government pension liabilities and global population changes.

“Politics is about more than the next election,” he said. “It is about the next generation.”

‘IT’ COUNTRY

Romania is poised to recover from the worldwide economic crisis because of its strong computer-based industry, the U.S. ambassador in Bucharest predicted this week at a global forum on information technology and communication.

“I believe Romania is the right place to host this global forum, because it has great IT&C potentials, and, in the past 20 years, this sector has been a strong economic engine,” Ambassador Mark Gitenstein said.

“I also believe the IT&C sector will take Romania out of the ongoing crisis.”

He noted that 50,000 Romanians have jobs in computer-related fields and make above-average salaries. The information technology and communications sector has contributed nearly $10 billion to the Romanian economy, making the industry responsible for about 8 percent of its gross domestic product.

The Global Forum 2009, which closed Tuesday, drew 350 specialists from private industries and public officials from 30 countries to discuss advances in electronic communications to promote government, health care, payroll systems, telemedicine, digital media and high-speed, broadband Internet access.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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