EU president: U.S. economic plan a ‘way to hell’

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek addresses deputies at the European Parliament.
The Czech prime minister, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, said Wednesday the U.S. economic recovery plan is "a way to hell."

The huge financial injections into the economy are a repetition of mistakes from the Depression era of the 1930s, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, the official Czech news agency reported. He said “panic” surged in the European Union because of some of the U.S. measures, the news agency reported. The U.S. plan, which U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced this week, has already come under criticism for its hefty price. The goal is to buy at least $500 billion of existing assets and loans, such as subprime mortgages that are now in danger of default. Topolanek said he was “quite alarmed” at Geithner’s plan. “He talks about a large stimulus campaign by Americans,” Topolanek said. “All of these steps, their combination and their permanency, is a way to hell.” The “biggest success” of the European Council so far this year is a refusal to follow the same path, he said. “We need to read the history books and read with it the lessons of history,” Topolanek said.

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The Czech prime minister’s criticism came the day after U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a prime time news conference in which he defended the plan. It also comes a week before Topolanek, Obama, and other leaders from around the world gather in London for the G-20 summit. Obama said Tuesday that the U.S. government was having to make “some tough budgetary choices.” And he brushed off skeptics of the scope of his investments, saying, “We haven’t seen an alternative budget out of them.” The remarks by Topolanek, who is the caretaker EU president after his own government collapsed in the Czech republic, also showed the disunity in the European Union. His remarks came just a day after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the host of the upcoming G-20 summit, told the same group the EU and the United States need to spend more to revitalize the world economy.