The gaping U.S. budget deficit is cause for concern but clamping down on spending immediately would be pound-foolish and would derail the recovery, a top White House economic adviser said on Tuesday.

Christina Romer, who heads the Council of Economic Advisers, said cutting back now would inevitably nip the nascent economic recovery in the bud -- just as fiscal and monetary contraction in 1936 and 1937 led to a second severe recession before the recovery from the Great Depression was complete.

Romer, in prepared remarks to the National Association for Business Economics, also said President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package had been successful in pulling the economy out of a deep recession.

(Reporting by Emily Kaiser and Mark Felsenthal, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)