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Community Commentary: Obama put the country before the markets

September 27, 2011|By Tom Egan

Former Orange County Treasurer Chriss Street makes some statements about President Obama, makes some conjectures, and then draws some conclusions that are, well, out of left field ("Community Commentary: Why Obama doesn't care about the U.S. credit rating, Sept. 22").

He notes, "According to the Gallup Poll, Obama maintains the same 43% voter approval level he held from before the crisis (Street defines "crisis" as the reactions by the financial markets to the downgrading by S&P of the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA). But Congress hit a new all-time low approval rating of 13% during the crisis."

From his reporting — 43% to 13% — we can easily conclude that people approve of Obama's actions a lot more than they do Congress'.

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Street conjectures about some of Obama's actions regarding the economy that he claims were motivated by partisan political concerns, then ends with the somewhat mystifying conclusion, "But given that Obama was the political winner when America was downgraded to AA, it appears to be in his political interest to let the credit rating fall again."

Now, fallacious logic like that also would permit Street to say, "I lit a match. Then it rained. Therefore, lighting the match brought on the rain."

Just for the sake of discussion, though, let's ignore the possibility that the president might have had higher motivations than politics, say, the good of the country.

Then let's see what we can make of the news — reported, ironically, the same day Street's letter was published in the Daily Pilot — that investors worldwide are flocking to the safety of U.S. Treasuries.

Here's the subhead of that L.A. Times story:

"… Investors rush into U.S. bonds for safety, driving interest rates down."

First of all, that says our status in the economic world is relatively good. Second, if I were a businessman, that would be welcome news as it might help my bottom line. Lower interest rates are exactly the result that the Federal Reserve wanted its monetary policy to achieve in order to stimulate the economy.

So, should Street support a leader who gets us to a better place, even though the process seems muddled? Or should Street dismiss him because of perceived flaws?

Since Street is a Republican, I'd just suggest he hearken back to the story of how the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, reacted to people complaining about Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's drinking.

Lincoln supposedly said, "Find out what whiskey he drinks and send all of my generals a case, if it will get the same results."

TOM EGAN lives in Costa Mesa.

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