And that's what our friends are saying about us. On Wednesday, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, currently serving a six-month term as the president of the European Union, lit into U.S. deficit spending -- and Washington's urging Europe to follow a similar path -- in the middle of a Brussels speech Wednesday:
"All of these steps, these combinations and permanency is the road to hell," Topolanek said. "We need to read the history books and the lessons of history and the biggest success of the (EU) is the refusal to go this way."
"Americans will need liquidity to finance all their measures and they will balance this with the sale of their bonds but this will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market," Topolanek said.
Several EU member states hastily backed away from Topolanek (indeed, he has troubles of his own back home where his government lost a "no confidence" vote earlier this week). But it's fair to say that there isn't quite consensus on how to deal with what has become the first worldwide recession since the 1940s:
Europe's resistance to the U.S. call for new stimulus measures is starting to weaken despite Germany's fierce opposition to any new spending program this year.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday he is prepared to support the economy with a new spending package. EU officials say they can't rule anything out — even an EU-wide stimulus that could help nations like Ireland and Spain, which can't afford any extra stimulus.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also supported U.S. calls to ramp up fiscal stimulus — government spending and tax cuts — although the Bank of England has warned that Britain's swelling public deficit may make it unable to afford new spending.
Still, Topolanek's comments will resonate with domestic critics of the Obama economic plans. After all, Republicans are already using words like "bankruptcy" to describe the implications of Obama's budget.
This EU flare-up follows harsh criticism from China over the US' rising red ink. And the tiff with Mexico over trucks and trade. And the alleged multiple dissing of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown during his visit earlier this month.
Hmmm...looks like the vaunted foreign policy "reset button" -- when the rest of the world magically falls back in love with the United States now that the big, bad Bush administration has been put out to pasture -- needs a bit more work. Maybe the STAPLES "Easy button" is an option?
Next week's G-20 economic summit should be loads of fun!
Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.