Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tea Party Downgrade?

Standard and Poor (S&P) downgraded the US's credit rating from AAA to AA+. The initial reaction from Democrats was "Who are you to do this? It was your AAA rating of junk bonds that caused the recession." They followed this up by naming it the Tea Party Downgrade. Is this accurate?

While S&P did have some bad things to say about the recent brinkmanship over raising the credit ceiling, they made it clear that their long-term worry is the size of the deficit. They said all along that they wanted to see a reduction of $4 trillion. Instead Congress reduced it by $1 trillion immediately with another $1 trillion to be named later. These cuts will not take place until after the next election.

S&P felt that this was inadequate because 1) Within ten years interest on the national debt will be unmanageable and 2) The real growth in the debt over the next decade will be in entitlements which were considered untouchable in the current negotiations.

The President's reaction to this was to say, "The fact is, we didn't need a rating agency to tell us that we need a balanced, long-term approach to deficit reduction."

Actually, we do need a rating agency to tell us this. The Tea Party was formed over deficit reduction but has not been taken seriously. The President has not proposed any sort of deficit reduction. To the contrary, his proposed budget called for greater deficits and he asked for a "clean" debt ceiling increase (one with no conditions). The only solution he ever proposed was raising taxes on the "rich" and on corporations and even this seems to be motivated by ideology rather than concern over the deficit.

The biggest proof that S&P's rating has little to do with the Tea Party is that they are also threatening to reduce France's rating for the same reason - because it owes too much money.

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