G-20 nations pledge to cut deficits despite Obama's push for stimulus

President Barack Obama's push for continued global stimulus in light of a tenuous economic recovery was largely pushed back at the G-20 as world leaders agreed to focus on deficit reduction.

Obama and his team have repeatedly warned that while the worst of the crisis has passed, the recovery is still "uneven and fragile" and ongoing stimulus efforts are needed.

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But European leaders, led largely by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have pushed back on increased spending as deficits rage out of control.

Those European leaders appeared to win out over the weekend at the G-20 summit in Toronto as the world's leaders agreed to cut deficits in half by 2013.

But Obama lauded what he saw as a spirit of cooperation at the summit, saying that he was aware that "the focus coming into these meetings was on whether our nations would be divided by different approaches."

"But as we have proven repeatedly over the last 18 months, our nations can come together through the G-20, and build on the foundation of our shared interests," Obama said in his closing press conference.

Obama bristled at suggestions that he is not as concerned about deficits as other countries, saying that Germany's plans "are no more front-loaded than ours."

"Keep in mind that we had already proposed a long time ago that we were going to cut our deficits in half by 2013," Obama said.

Obama said there is "violent agreement" among the countries in attendance that "we're not rushing to the exits too quickly and at the same time" while simultaneously putting in place preliminary plans for deficit reduction.

Obama did, however, win language in the summit's declaration expressing a cooperative pledge to continue to build on growth efforts established at last year's G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.

The declaration noted that unemployment in many "countries remains at unacceptable levels, and the social impact of the crisis is still widely felt."


"Strengthening the recovery is key," the leaders declared. "To sustain recovery, we need to follow through on delivering existing stimulus plans, while working to create the conditions for robust private demand. At the same time, recent events highlight the importance of sustainable public finances and the need for our countries to put in place credible, properly phased and growth-friendly plans to deliver fiscal sustainability, differentiated for and tailored to national circumstances."

The leaders appeared to be walking a fine line, promising continued growth efforts while at the same time curbing spending and reducing deficits. The declaration makes clear that those decisions will be made at the "national level," leaving the paths to recovery up to each individual country or on the European level.

The declaration stated that the leaders "agreed to follow through on fiscal stimulus and communicating 'growth friendly' fiscal consolidation plans in advanced countries that will be implemented going forward."

Despite Obama's push for increased global stimulus spending, efforts to do the same at home have largely stalled as Congress appears less and less likely to pass any major stimulus bills as deficit worries have increased significantly in the U.S.

Obama was scheduled to wrap up the G-20 and G-8 summits in Canada with a press conference Sunday evening. He was scheduled to return to Washington later Sunday night.


This story was updated at 6:45 p.m.

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