Just doing his job

Wayne Swan sparked outrage amongst the opposition, his own party colleagues and US politicians by claiming that ‘cranks and crazies’ had infiltrated the US Republican Party and posed a threat to the world’s economy.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said Swan’s remarks were a “calculated insult” against Mitt Romney’s running mate, congressman Paul Ryan. But the Government hit back saying the Treasurer was simply doing his job.

What Wayne Swan actually said was “Let’s be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world’s biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over a part of the Republican Party.”

Julia Gillard has backed the comments made by Wayne Swan saying he was simply doing his job. “The strength of the American economy matters to the global economy,” she said. “The Treasurer has been making appropriate comments today about potential risks for the global economy and consequently for the Australian economy. You would expect him to be doing that.”

However, former Western Australian Labor premier Geoff Gallop lashed out at the Treasurer’s comments, saying they were “absolutely wrong” and were one of the “silly little political games” that are undermining Labor’s gravitas.

Read more from The Australian.

Opinion – Should Wayne hold his tongue?

As Treasurer, Wayne Swan is surely entitled to have his say on world economic matters; we do have a global economy after all. But it appears his latest comments have been taken out of context, or have they? Is Wayne Swan only saying what others are thinking?

The Treasurer’s comments were based on the findings of a study by Citigroup, which likened the legislated US budget cuts to the “policy missteps” of the 1930s. Under budget cuts, taxes are due to rise and spending set to reduce around December. The study has found that such measures will take five percentage points off US growth next year. In an economy so precariously balanced, surely this is a tad cavalier?

So, with America likely to be heading towards another recession and the global economy so reliant on a strong US economy, Wayne Swan’s comments don’t seem so outrageous. Perhaps he could have chosen his words better, or perhaps others could have listened to, and understood their meaning before clambering to comment.

Should Wayne Swan hold his tongue or does he have the right to comment on global economic issues?