A Letter from Obama Isn't Worth as Much as You'd Think

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A Texas school teacher is joining a long and noble tradition of selling his letter from the president for thousands of dollars. Thomas J. Ritter wrote to President Obama to complain about, what else, Obamacare, which he said caused "a ­divisive, derisive and toxic environment," according to The New York Post. Ritter added that he feared that anyone who disagreed with Obama was in danger of being mocked, the way the White House has made fun of Sarah Palin and tea partiers. "Do the right thing not the political thing," Ritter wrote. "Suggest a bill that Americans can support.”

Obama responded, shooting down the idea he made fun of anyone, and the assumption that Obamacare has somehow been a political boon for his party. "I believe that health care reform will be the right thing for the country," he wrote. "It certainly wasn’t the smart ‘political’ thing!" Normally, when the president responds to your accusatorial letter one is pleasantly surprised, given the odds. Not Ritter. As he told The New York Post

I am selling the letter because I am just so disappointed, and this ObamaCare bill is wrong. The president told me what he thought I wanted to hear. The letter is just words on a paper. It doesn’t mean anything to me because Obama doesn’t mean any of it.

With the help of Gary Zimet of momentsintime.com, Ritter hopes to get at least $24,000 from this letter that doesn't mean anything to him, in the hopes that it will mean something to someone else. Back in 2010, the president of Alexander Autographs told U.S. News and World Report a signed letter from Obama could fetch up to $20,000, but Obama hasn't consistently lived up to that valuation. 

  • In November 2010, a struggling mother who wrote to the president after she and her husband lost their jobs and their insurance sold her letter for $7,000. Zimet said he was getting the better deal. "It is certainly worth more than I am paying for it,” he said. 
  • In June 2011 a single mother of three sold her letter for $11,000. According to NBC Chicago, Zimet said he had sold eight similar letters by that point, all for between $10,000 to $20,000. 
  • In August 2012, Zimet was at it again. A mother had received a letter from the president in which he promised to make troops like her son his "priority." Zimet said he'd sold ten such letters for between $5,000 and $15,000 (not sure if the discrepancy is Zimet's fault or NBC News').  According to NBC News the family sold the letter for $8,500, minus 25 percent commission.
  • In October 2012, Laura Stephenson decided to sell the letter she'd received from the president. "I was floored," she said, after receiving the letter. "I couldn't believe what had gone through his mind to actually pick my letter to respond to." Zimet swooped in again, telling The Huffington Post he'd sold ten letters for between $5,000 and $20,000. He said Stephenson's was worth $12,500, but a year later it's still for sale

Ritter shouldn't get his hope up.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.