Making Germany Happy
Just as the US public initially rallied behind the war President Bush — even to the point of re-electing him — Americans have now thrown their support behind the debt president Obama. The mistakes of the Bush administration are now widely accepted. The mistakes of the Obama administration are still not recognized as such. They are seen as the truth.
Glenn follows the link with a quote from a reader:
“The piece drips with der Spiegel’s typical anti-Americanism, but when your spending alarms even the Europeans, it’s time to reconsider.”
The article is worth reading if only because it illustrates nicely a point I made before the election: Germans will be suspicious of the American president because he’s the American president, not merely because of the policies he’s supported. Any foreseeable American president is bound to make decisions that won’t make Germany happy.
Frankly, I doubt that the Germans are particularly concerned about our spending. Rather, I suspect they’re complaining that we don’t tax ourselves enough.
According to the OECD the tax to GDP ratio in the United States is about 28.3% as of 2007, the most recent year for which they have statistics, while for Germans it’s about 36%. By German standards we’re undertaxed and getting more so rapidly. Our public debt to GDP ratio is rising rapidly, too, from where it is now (which has been roughly the same as Germany or France) into the same territory as Belgium’s or even Japan’s.
Would Germany be happier if we behaved more like Germany? Frankly, I doubt it. If we did we’d be spending less than 2% of our GDP on our military which means that there would be little counterbalance to a resurgent Russia. Further, until very recently Germany has been one of the few countries running a trade surplus with China. Simply stated the Chinese factories producing consumer goods for sale in the United States are built and stocked with German machines. If we behaved like Germany we’d have been running a trade surplus with China which means that the Germans wouldn’t have been able to sell all that heavy machinery to the Chinese.
In my view the bottom line is that very little that we could do would make Germany happy and, consequently, what they think isn’t that interesting to us.