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Fortune Managing Editor Absolves Obama of Blame for Financial Market Woes

Reagan called them the nine scariest words when uttered together: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

That is unless the government comes in the form of President Barack Obama, who’s policy responses during the economic downturn are above criticism, according to Fortune magazine managing editor Andy Serwer. Serwer appeared on MSNBC’s March 2 “Morning Joe” and criticized conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s Feb. 28 speech at CPAC, for wanting the president’s policies – referred to as “socialism” to fail and for calling Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) “unconstitutional.”

“I don’t understand, first of all, why is it unconstitutional, number one,” Serwer said. “Isn’t sort of a continuation of the policies that were first enacted in the previous administration – which would be a Republican administration? Third of all, I don’t think it’s particularly constructive when we’re facing this massive financial crisis to wish the president would fail. I think that’s tone deaf beyond words.”

Serwer failed to note that Limbaugh opposed the TARP plan passed on the watch of President George W. Bush.. And he was in disbelief that Limbaugh was opposed Obama for ideological reasons.

“You’re talking about a battle royale here – you guys are going to be fighting over deck chairs on the Titanic,” Serwer said. “You know, I mean, this is a real crisis. This is not something to fight about, little provisions of budgets. I mean, we need some real action here. And for him to suggest that, you know the president should fail is ludicrous to me. I mean, what country are we living in here? Is he living in?”

MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan pointed out how the financial markets have struggled since Obama’s inauguration. Since the president was sworn in on Jan. 20, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has lost over 1,000 points.

“That’s because things are continuing to get worse,” Serwer replied. “They’re not failing in response to his plans, Pat. You know that.”

Serwer also blamed the troubled insurance American International Group Inc. (AIG) (NYSE:AIG), after reporting losses in excess of $60 billion and needing $30 billion more in aid from the federal government.

“They’re plunging because AIG is in serious trouble, because unemployment is going up and up in the fourth quarter – that was during the Bush administration,” Serwer said.

Buchanan reiterated the stock market is a forward-looking indicator and its lack of confidence was illustrated by a nearly 400-point drop on Feb. 10 after a disappointing speech by Obama’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on how to sort out troubled assets.

“Andy, we know what’s happened to the Bush administration,” Buchanan said. “No one is defending it, but the stock market is an indicator of where we are going and it says we are heading downhill. Do you think there’s any confidence in Mr. Geithner and how he’s handling the banks, or in this stimulus package, which is a monstrous payout, when the Democrats say we may need another one?”

Serwer refused to cede the point that Obama’s actions have had anything to do with the market’s dismal performance.

“I wouldn’t lay it at the feet of the new president yet,” Serwer added.