Can the U.S. Carry Any Economic Clout at G-20?

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The G-20 summit gets underway in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Thursday. The U.S. is hosting the meeting, but doesn't carry the same clout it once did -- thanks to trillion dollar deficits and a weakening dollar.

Now, other countries like China and Brazil see an opening to push their agendas.

What does the International G-20 Economic Summit have in common with Americans protesting the health care bill this summer?

"We keep getting the bull. That's all we get is bull, you can't tell us how you're going to pay for this," an angry protestor said at a town hall meeting.

Both are concerned about the same thing: out-of-control federal spending in Washington.

President Barack Obama says the global economy can't rely on huge borrowing and spending by Americans, but other countries are worried the U.S. is running its deficit into the stratosphere, leading to a national debt that could hit $20 trillion in the next several years.

That's the same concern that drove many Americans to protest massive health care legislation moving through Congress.

"Will it pay for its way or will it be under-funded like Medicare and Medicaid?" a concerned citizen asked at a town hall meeting.

U.S. leaders say a large part of the deficit was spent to save the global economic system from a meltdown last year when the credit crisis hit.

And so far world stock markets -- including America's -- have recovered.

But analysts -- and countries like China -- are worried that big government spending in Washington will undermine the value of the dollar in the longer run.

It's one of the issues G-20 leaders will discuss.

"How to live after the crisis? What to do with exit policies? And whether all of us carry on with fiscal stimulus," said First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov.

In Pittsburgh, extra police officers stand by to protect the city.

Repelling off a bridge towards the Ohio River, members of Greenpeace have already unfurled their message to leaders: reduce emissions now.

"We are trying to get a message out to the G-20 leaders that climate change is the preeminent issue of our time and they need to focus on the issue and they need to get greenhouse gases down," said Damon Moglen with Greenpeace

That's something President Obama supports, but critics say it too could be costly.

So the president may face a tough time at home and abroad talking about the need for spending discipline.

Critics are likely to say get your own house in order first.

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Jennifer Wishon

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.