WASHINGTON-President Obama's speech to Congress last week had nary a mention of global solutions to the economic crisis, but British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's address to that same group Wednesday had a decidedly global agenda.
Brown called for a "global new deal" to solve the crisis, comparing the current moment in history to the Great Depression, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced his New Deal. U.S. leaders should push for global banking regulations and stimulus packages in every country, Brown said, as he looked toward the G-20 economic summit in April, which Britain is hosting.
The prime minister decried any attempts at protectionism, which he said "in the end, protects no one" and was met with no applause. House Democrats had inserted "buy America" provisions into the stimulus bill originally, though those were removed in the final version.
"We will win our future not by retreating from the world but by engaging with it," Brown said. "The new shared truth is that global problems need global solutions."
Brown, the first European leader to visit the Obama White House, met with the president Tuesday, and the two publicly affirmed Britain's special friendship with the United States. On Wednesday he was met in Congress by applause and over a dozen standing ovations through his speech-but a good number of lawmakers were absent, and congressional pages and staffers filled their seats.
"Early in my life I came to understand that America is not just the indispensable nation, you are the irrepressible nation," Brown said.
He implored the United States to work with international bodies not just on security crises, but also on economic crises. These global partnerships, he said, should outlaw shadow banking systems and offshore tax havens.
"You now have the most pro-American European leadership in living memory," he told members of both the House and Senate, adding that global leaders now have an opportunity, as the worldwide community's last line of defense, to "shape global markets."
To tepid Republican applause, Brown harped on reducing the effects of climate change, which he argued would be a forward-looking approach to the crisis by creating millions of green jobs.
The prime minister touched on security issues, as well, calling on Iran to end its nuclear program. Although President Obama has hardly used the word "terrorism" since he took office, Brown dove headfirst into the topic: "You should be proud that in the years after 2001 you have shown that while terrorists may destroy buildings and even, tragically, lives, they have not, and will not ever, destroy the American spirit."