Obama Urges Global Economic Coordination

11 March 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama is calling on America's allies to further coordinate efforts to jump-start their economies. The president also is expected to sign a bill Wednesday to keep the U.S. government running through September, while calling for reforms in the budget process.

President Obama is warning that his initiatives to revive the U.S. economy will struggle without coordination from other major economies.

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

President Barack Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, 11 Mar 2009
President Barack Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in the Oval Office of the White House, 11 Mar 2009
Mr. Obama spoke after receiving an Oval Office briefing from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who goes to Britain this week to meet with the finance ministers of 20 advanced and developing nations.

"Everything we do in the United States will be more effective if we have the world moving with us," said Geithner. "You know, we are the most productive economy in the world, [with the] most productive workers in the world. But they need markets for their products that are expanding, and we have a lot of work to do. But I think we can make a lot of progress."

The president said his goals for the finance ministers' meeting are to ensure that there is a "concerted effort around the globe to jump-start the economy," and to move forward on regulatory reform, to prevent future crises.

The leaders of the "G-20" nations will meet in London early next month, to discuss the global financial situation.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is signing a $410 billion spending bill to keep the U.S. government functioning through September. The legislation contains billions of dollars for projects in lawmakers' home districts - a practice Mr. Obama says he wants to limit.

"Projects have been inserted at the 11th hour, without review, and sometimes without merit, in order to satisfy the political or personal agendas of a given legislator, rather than the public interest," he said.

Mr. Obama has promised to force Congress to limit spending on projects for lawmakers' home districts or states. But the budget is estimated to contain almost 8,000 "earmarks," worth $5.5 billion.

It includes $485,000 for a boarding school for native students in Alaska, for example, and $1.2 million to allow the nonprofit organization, Helen Keller International to give eyeglasses to students with poor vision.

Despite his opposition to some of the expenditures in the bill, the president says he is signing the legislation so the government will continue functioning.

"We cannot have Congress bogged down at this critical juncture in our economic recovery," Mr. Obama said. "But I also view this as a departure point for more far-reaching change."

The 1,100-page budget pays for the operations of every Cabinet department except Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.