Partisan gridlock is real culprit, S&P says
By Ben Wolfgang
The Washington Times
Updated: 10:36 p.m. on Sunday, August 7, 2011
While continuing to cast doubt on the credibility of Standard & Poor's, several Democrats on Sunday said there is an even greater culprit in the downgrade of the nation's credit rating: the tea party.
"I believe this is, without question, the tea party downgrade," Sen. John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, a day that also saw mounting anxieties in world markets over the downgrade among myriad other economic woes worldwide. Some of the world's top financial ministers issued a joint statement Sunday night committing themselves to preserve the stability of financial markets and their economies.
David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama, used the exact same phrase in dubbing the credit rating drop the "tea party downgrade," as Democrats tried to position themselves as reasonable, pragmatic leaders and conservative Republicans as irresponsible ideologues who caused the downgrade by refusing to accept any new taxes.
That's exactly the kind of blame game that led Standard & Poor's, one of three key credit-ratings agencies, to strip the U.S. federal government of its AAA status Friday night and reducing it to AA+ for the first time in the nation's history.
"Congress and the administration are jointly responsible for the conduct of fiscal policy. So, this is not really about either political party," David Beers, the head of S&P's government debt-rating unit, said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."
In justifying its actions, S&P cited the political gridlock that continues to paralyze Washington. Although Democrats and Republicans eventually came together last week and crafted a compromise bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling, S&P decided it wasn't enough to save the nation's AAA status, a rating still held by France, Sweden and other countries, and businesses such as Coca-Cola Co. and Microsoft Corp.
"Even with the agreement of Congress and the administration this past week ... the underlying debt burden of the U.S. government is rising and will continue to do so most likely over the next decade," Mr. Beers said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, defended the tea party and said that without the movement, trillions of dollars in spending cuts wouldn't be possible.
Sounds like a talking point. Let's see if anyone is stupid enough to fall for it.