ON BOARD AIR FORCE TWO (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday the U.S. economy needed more stimulus, putting in a plug for government intervention shortly before the White House unveils new proposals to boost job growth.
At the end of a trip to Asia, Biden also said a final decision had not been made on whether Washington would sell Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan and noted Beijing knew America viewed its one-child policy as “abhorrent.”
Biden made political waves back in the United States when he said in a speech in China that he was not second-guessing the country’s restrictions on parents having just one child.
Republican presidential candidates pounced, saying Biden should have condemned the policy that critics say leads to forced sterilization and abortions.
After roughly ten days abroad in China, Mongolia and Japan, the U.S. vice president is likely to turn his attention to domestic policy as the White House prepares its jobs initiative and Congress returns after the Labor Day holiday.
The United States is struggling with unemployment above 9 percent and reeling from a downgrade by credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s in the aftermath of a divisive political debate over deficit-cutting between Democrats and Republicans.
Reacting to a leadership switch at S&P after the downgrade, Biden said his “instinct” was that pressure from disgruntled businesses may have influenced the change, though he made clear he did not know the agency’s internal workings.
S&P’s parent McGraw-Hill Companies Inc, said on Tuesday that Deven Sharma, who has served as S&P president since 2007, will be succeeded on September 12 by Citibank Chief Operating Officer Douglas Peterson.
“I don’t know how they made the judgment,” about the new leader, Biden told three reporters traveling on his plane, Air Force Two, at the end of his trip.
“My instinct is they got a lot of pressure from a lot of places, not the government. I think there were probably an awful lot of businesses out there going, what the hell did you guys do? You know, I mean, because it rebounded back to impacting on Wall Street and impacting on American business.”
Businesses are eager to see what President Barack Obama will unveil in a new package of measures to create jobs and spark the economy.
Biden declined to reveal specifics of the plan, which is expected to be released in the coming weeks, but he said it was clear the economy could use a kick.
“I think the economy does need more stimulus,” Biden said, adding that it was difficult to get the 2009 package of some $830 billion in spending and tax cuts through Congress even when Democrats had majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“Everybody says we should’ve (had)...a bigger stimulus package. Yeah, we should‘ve. I was pushing (for) it,” he said.
“It never would’ve passed. I mean, that’s how close this was. It’s not like, you know, there was a lot of leftover support out there.”
The White House has said Obama’s new package would include measures that could get support from both political parties.
Biden said the war in Libya and democratic movements across the Arab world came up in conversations with Chinese leaders.
“There’s been a lot of chatter in China on some sources that we’re responsible for fomenting the ... Arab Spring, as if we can take credit for it,” he said.
“And I wanted to make it clear that although we support it - democracy -- ...it was spontaneous,” he said.
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to make a reciprocal visit to the United States in the coming months, but Biden said they were working out a venue to talk before that.
In other controversial topics, Biden said the United States had not made a final decision about selling F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan and he indicated the topic had not been discussed explicitly with Chinese leaders.
“What we talked about was encouraging them to continue this cross-strait dialogue, which is really what we’re looking for -- it’s for them to have a stable relationship with Taiwan,” Biden said.
He said U.S. leaders made clear to their Chinese counterparts they were not going to “negotiate with you about the future of Taiwan.”
Biden pressed China in a speech on Sunday about its human rights record, including a reference to the country’s one-child policy, which he said he was not second-guessing.
“It is predictable,” Biden said of the subsequent Republican criticism, noting it was “political season.”
“The Chinese had no illusions in my private conversations - even the public ones - (about) how abhorrent we find the policy,” he said.
Editing by Vicki Allen