President Obama has steered the nation wisely through troubled times

I was flabbergasted by Stanley Glinka's recent letter criticizing President Obama's performance in office ("Obama made U.S. weaker, more vulnerable," Oct. 31). He obviously lives in a different country than the rest of us.

Let me point out that over the last 32 years the White House has been occupied for 20 years by Republicans and 12 years by Democrats, counting President Obama's first term. So I marvel during this campaign season at how, according to the Republicans, all the nation's problems supposedly begin and end with President Obama.

To give credit where it is due, if former President George W. Bush had not proposed the TARP bailout of the nation's banks, and if President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had not instituted expansionary policies, our Great Recession probably would have been worse than the Great Depression of the 1920s and '30s.

Many have complained that the economy has not bounced back fast enough. But that is in part because, like the Great Depression, our Great Recession was a financial meltdown rather than a traditional economic slowdown, and because fiscal policy during the "recovery" period has been less robust than it should have been — in large measure because of Republican foot-dragging and obstructionism.

Herbert Hoover is the villain of the Great Depression because his policies to deal with the crisis involved belt-tightening and too much reliance on the private sector to pull the country out of recession. But the private sector couldn't do it because of the fiscal tightening caused by the Depression and the lack of demand by a suddenly impoverished populace.

Regarding the specifics of Mr. Glinka's charge of Mr. Obama's mismanagement, yes the economy has been terrible and continues to be, but that's not the president's fault. The aftereffects of the financial crash of 1929 lasted until the beginning of World War II, 12 years after the on-set of the Great Depression.

Yes, the price of gasoline is high despite increased exploration and drilling under President Obama. But the price of energy has fluctuated up and down for decades now under all our recent presidents, due to market forces and world conditions.

The drop in family incomes started under President Bush. Income has continued to drop under President Obama because of the economy he inherited. In fact, since the economic period just after of WWII, real family income has risen only under President Bill Clinton during the 1990s.

The Federal Reserve says that except for energy costs, inflation remains low. It is for that reason the Federal Reserve has been able to exercise an expansionary monetary policy in an effort to help further grow the economy. Mr. Glinka's health care costs are rising, but that's not new either. Health care costs have been rising for decades. The Congressional Budget Office says that the president's health care reform will lower those costs over the next 10 years.

Finally, regarding foreign policy, the Middle East is in no more turmoil than it was when President Bush left office. I would argue that by having ended the war in Iraq, having a plan to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and having exercised patience during the Arab Spring, Mr. Obama has won us favor in the region. Americans don't want to get involved in another war there, and the president acted responsibly in Libya, where many argued for troops on the ground.

The Republicans have sought to discredit all of the president's foreign policy accomplishments because of the tragic death of our ambassador and three others in Libya. But that just rhetoric. The president acted prudently on Syria, and his sanctions are taking a toll on Iran.

There is plenty more that could be said in favor of this president. He deserves to be re-elected. The truth of that is shown by the fact that even GOP challenger Mitt Romney has chosen to move closer to the president's positions in the final weeks of the campaign.

Joseph Costa, Baltimore

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